SF 49ers – Week 13 WIN – George Kittle is the new Gronk !!!

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In their best game of the year, the Niners beat the hot Denver Broncos who had won 3 games in a row and was in the hunt for a playoff spot. Before the game started, the Broncos knew that the Baltimore Ravens had lost, thus opening an opportunity for them to sneak into the playoffs. The Broncos had plenty to play for and had to be confident playing the Niners who had only two wins this entire season. As I said in last week’s post, there is plenty to be optimistic about this Niner team going forward. The young studs on both sides of the ball showcased their talents against a playoff caliber team.These guys are playing for their future as Shanahan told them that the remaining games are important to find out who will be part of the Niners success going forward.

Nick Mullens had a solid game throwing for 305 yards on 20-33 and 2 TD’s. 210 of those yards went to George Kittle which included an exciting 85 yard catch-n-run TD, all in the first half. Kittle is now being mentioned as being in the same class as Gronkowski and Kelce. Mullens also threw a game clinching TD to Dante Pettis. Jeff Wilson had a career high 90 yards in his first NFL start.

Thus, an undrafted QB (Nick Mullens) and an undrafted RB (Jeff Wilson) took apart a very good Bronco defense. But, it was the unsung heroes who won the game for the Niners. The Offensive Line controlled the line of scrimmage against Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, two of the best sack artists in the league. Also, the Defensive Line held Phillip Lindsey to 30 yards on 14 carries. Last week, Lindsey had 157 yards and 2 TD’s against the Bengals. Witherspoon and Sherman had good games at the Cornerback position but it was D.J. Reed and Marcell Harris, both Rookies, who had absolutely monster games playing the Safety positions.

With Jimmy Garoppolo, Jerick McKinnon and Raheem Mostert returning next year from injuries and the Niners committed to finding a Pass Rusher and an impact Wide Receiver, they are pointing in the right direction.

I don’t expect the Niners to win any of the remaining 3 games, all against playoff teams (the Seahawks, Bears, and Rams). But, I do expect these games to be competitive as the young players are now strutting their stuff.

This-n-That:

  • After the Raiders beat the high flying Steelers, they fired their GM, Reggie McKenzie. No doubt, there was a power struggle between Chuckie Gruden and McKenzie. With Chuckie beating the Steelers, this presented a perfect time to tell owner Mark Davis that he was in control. With Gruden trading the best LB in the league, Khalil Mack, and also trading an impact WR, Amari Cooper, he is being very Baalke-like in his determination to make this his own team. With only 3 wins this year, time will tell if Gruden can make this team a winner.
  • There is some truth to some team match-up dynamics that simply do not change regardless of whether one team is dominant and the other team just average. One of these cases is between the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins. No matter how good the Patriots are and how bad the Dolphins are, the Dolphins have the Patriots number. Yesterday was no different as the Dolphins pulled off a major upset with an implausible game winning 69 yard TD with a hook-n-ladder miracle on the last play of the game (34-33).
  • The Golden State Warriors were named Sport Illustrated Sportsperson of the year. They become only the 4th team ever to win this award. The 1980 US Men’s Olympic Hockey team, the 1999 US Women’s Olympic Soccer team, and the 2004 World Series Boston Red Sox team are the only other teams to win this otherwise individual performance award.
    “This is an incredible honor and one that certainly signifies our Strength in Numbers philosophy as a team and organization,” Warriors President of Basketball Operations/General Manager Bob Myers told The Associated Press. “Our success is due to the contributions of every single player, coach and staff member in our organization; for Sports Illustrated to recognize this unique dynamic is truly special.”

SF 49ers – Week 11 Loss – Domestic Violence is NOT OK !!!

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The Niners lost to the Tampa Bay Bucs but the big news of the week transpired prior to the game. Reuben Foster was arrested for yet another domestic violence incident… with the same women that he abused before. The Niners did the right thing and cut him from the team immediately. The organization did more than what was expected to try to turn this young man’s life around, but Reuben couldn’t separate the violence of football from his personal life. His teammates, especially Richard Sherman, tried to take him under his wings but that also didn’t help. Regardless of the tough upbringing that Reuben suffered from, there comes a time when a grown man must take responsibility for his actions.

In breaking news, a video surfaced on Nov 30 of Kareem Hunt, the star running back of the Kansas City Chiefs, shoving a woman then kicking her while she was on the floor. This incident took place in February but the video just surfaced for the public to view. It’s not clear if the Chiefs knew about the video prior to Nov 30, but their statement was that they knew of the incident, didn’t know about the video, and trusted Kareem’s version of the incident. They saw that the video did not match Kareem’s story so they cut him from the team immediately. There is a “he said, she said” bantering going on but regardless of “who started it”, there is no excuse for a man to hit a women under any circumstance…. Period !!!

A day after the Niners cut Foster, the Washington Redskins signed him to a contract. While the media was criticizing the Redskin Management for signing Foster, Sr. Vice President Doug Williams stated that what Foster did was “small potatoes”, so they signed him. YIKES !!! Yes, he really said that… The Philadelphia Eagles were somewhat interested in signing Foster but they called the Tampa Bay police and decided to pass. The Redskins, on the other hand, have a number of Alabama players on their team so decided to add another one.

With respect to Foster and Hunt, kudos to the Niners and Chiefs for doing the right thing. The Redskins, on the other hand continue to be two-faced about condemning violence but hiring violent personnel. The same can be said about the Dallas Cowboys (Randy Gregory), Cincinnati Bengals (Joe Mixon), Kansas City Chiefs (Tyreke Hill… yes, they did the right thing with Kareem Hunt but Hill is still on the team), and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Jameis Winston). And this list is just off the top of my head without doing any research.

It’s clear that the NFL’s (Owners and Commissioner) top priority is making money. They say the right things about condemning violence and doing everything they can to protect players from injury, but their actions do not match what they say… They do NOT walk-the-walk!!! In regard to domestic violence, this fact came out so clearly in the Ray Rice case where both the Baltimore Ravens and the NFL continued to support Rice until the infamous video surfaced. They then had to do an about face and finally punish Rice. They defended Rice because he was a money draw for the Ravens. Also, the NFL has been doing all players injustice by continuing to play and promote Thursday Night Football. It is a known fact that four days simply isn’t enough time to recover from the violence that they go through every Sunday. The NFL says they are doing everything they can to protect players but still play on Thursdays for the revenue.

There is no doubt in my mind that another NFL team will claim Kareem Hunt because he is still young and in the prime of his career and he is a money draw.

Bay Area Sports:

  • The Oakland A’s announced a new plan to build a new baseball venue in Jack London Square. We’ve all heard this before so I’ll believe it when shovel hits dirt.
  • The SF Giants under new GM, Farhan Zaidi, made the first players decision by keeping Joe Panik, Sam Dyson and Will Smith while releasing Hunter Strickland and Gorkys Hernandez. While these aren’t “turn-around” decisions, they are the correct ones with the players currently on the roster.
  • The GS Warriors are getting Steph Curry back from injury on Dec 1 and Draymond Green soon thereafter. This comes at a time when Kevin Durant has found his “happy zone” and has carried the team. In his last three games, KD has scored 44, 49 and 51 points while playing equally well on defense. As Steph is the QB of the team and directs traffic and the flow of the game, what makes him a super-star is the fact that he knows how to get the “hot” player involved in the flow. With KD playing his best ball of his career and Steph getting back into the flow, we should enjoy great basketball from here on in… and better enjoyment when Draymond, Zo McKinnie and Boogie Cousins begin playing again.
  • Steph Curry is the most beloved athlete in sports history. Not only is he beloved on the court, his actions off the court tell the true story of why he is so beloved. Last week, a 9 year-old girl named Riley Morrison from Napa, who is a diehard Warrior fan, wrote Steph a letter saying that she has been trying without success to buy Steph Curry 5 basketball shoes. Steph wrote back to her in a hand written letter telling her that he worked with Under Armour to fix the problem. He sent her a pair to Curry 5 shoes, worked with Under Armour to correct the marketing of these shoes to young girls, will send her a new pair of Curry 6’s when they come out, and invited her to a special day on March 8 (International Women’s Day) at the Warrior’s home game. “That’s the beauty of Steph,” Steve Kerr said. “He understands his power. He understands the impact he can make on people’s lives. And I’m incredible proud of him.”

MLB Teams With Best Cost-to-Win Ratios

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Typically, small market teams in any professional sport are at a huge disadvantage as they simply do not have the financial power to compete with the “Big Boys” who seemingly do not have a payroll ceiling as they have the willingness to pay high luxury taxes. In 2018, there are some astounding exceptions to this rule and as a sports fan, you simply have to root for these “David” teams against the “Goliath’s”.

Four teams stand apart from the rest of the league in terms of having the best cost-to-win ratio in 2018… These teams are in the top 10 in the cost-to-win ratio and equally as important, they are in Playoff contention. The Oakland A’s have the best ratio by far while having the third lowest payroll in MLB. The other standout teams are the Milwaukee Brewers, Philadelphia Phillies, and Atlanta Braves. All four of these teams have payrolls in the lower half of the league and they are all Playoff contenders. These teams have outstanding management in terms of scouting, drafting, and trading for players who don’t command top salaries but who play as well as the top salaried players in the league.

Of course, there are the “Goliath’s” who have very high payrolls but who are also Playoff contenders. The difference is that these teams are expected to win the World Series and anything short of that would be a failure. Teams with the 10 highest payrolls who are Playoff contenders are the Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals, Houston Astros, and Seattle Mariners. The management for these teams are second tier as they spend top dollars for the MLB super-stars. In other words, they don’t have to worry about being frugal to trade for the best players in baseball. But they also do a good job of scouting and drafting as their minor league teams are filled with good future MLB players.

Lastly, there are the teams with poor management who have the highest salaries who are not in Playoff contention. These teams are the San Francisco Giants, Washington Nationals, Los Angeles Angels, Toronto Blue Jays, the New York Mets. These teams are in the top 12 in having the highest payrolls but who have no hope to make the Playoffs. Of these teams, the SF Giants are in the poorest position going forward. They have the 2nd highest payroll and their roster is filled with old, high salaried players who do not command any trade value. In essence, the SF management have been overly loyal to players who brought home three World Series titles since 2010. At this point, there are no good options over the next few years except to hope that their minor league players come of age soon and can be effective major league players.

As an avid SF Giants fan since they moved here from New York, I am worried that they won’t be a competitive team again for years. But, I am amazed and thrilled that I was able to celebrate three World Series titles in seven years. And, since my motto is to simply relax and enjoy my favorite sports teams, I will forever be a Giants fan regardless of how they perform.

I am also a Bay Area sports fan in general so am thrilled to see how well the Oakland A’s are performing this year. As amazing as they are playing, they simply don’t get the press that they deserve. The press focuses all of their accolades to the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, and Houston Astros. For this reason, I would dearly love to see the A’s conquer these “Goliath’s” !!!

 

Go A’s !!!

 

Team Total Payroll Rank # of Wins as of 8/21/2018 Cost per Win Rank (Cost per Win Playoff Contention
Oakland Athletics $79,105,049 28 75 $1,054,733.99 1 Y
Tampa Bay Rays $70,973,984 30 64 $1,108,968.50 2
Pittsburgh Pirates $91,842,537 26 63 $1,457,818.05 3
Milwaukee Brewers $105,550,229 22 70 $1,507,860.41 4 Y
Chicago White Sox $71,168,615 29 47 $1,514,225.85 5
Philadelphia Phillies $103,424,036 23 68 $1,520,941.71 6 Y
Cincinnati Reds $98,923,352 25 55 $1,798,606.40 7
Miami Marlins $91,038,480 27 50 $1,820,769.60 8
Atlanta Braves $128,573,847 19 69 $1,863,389.09 9 Y
Minnesota Twins $114,689,120 21 59 $1,943,883.39 10
Cleveland Indians $141,133,243 14 72 $1,960,183.93 11 Y
San Diego Padres $99,474,315 24 49 $2,030,088.06 12
Arizona Diamondbacks $140,597,981 15 69 $2,037,651.90 13 Y
Colorado Rockies $142,828,448 13 68 $2,100,418.35 14 Y
Houston Astros $161,093,262 9 75 $2,147,910.16 15 Y
Seattle Mariners $159,985,757 10 72 $2,222,024.40 16 Y
New York Yankees $177,530,798 6 78 $2,276,035.87 17 Y
St. Louis Cardinals $162,540,882 8 69 $2,355,664.96 18 Y
Texas Rangers $138,989,968 16 56 $2,481,963.71 19
Detroit Tigers $129,892,009 17 51 $2,546,902.14 20
Boston Red Sox $227,835,760 1 88 $2,589,042.73 21 Y
Chicago Cubs $188,649,397 4 71 $2,657,033.76 22 Y
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim $173,543,411 7 63 $2,754,657.32 23
New York Mets $149,728,579 12 54 $2,772,751.46 24
Toronto Blue Jays $156,766,332 11 56 $2,799,398.79 25
Los Angeles Dodgers $194,197,232 3 67 $2,898,466.15 26 Y
Washington Nationals $186,810,505 5 62 $3,013,072.66 27
San Francisco Giants $207,025,940 2 62 $3,339,128.06 28
Baltimore Orioles $124,161,594 20 37 $3,355,718.76 29
Kansas City Royals $129,537,133 18 38 $3,408,871.92 30

 

The G.O.A.T. of all G.O.A.T.’s

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Every time a championship comes around whether it be a Super Bowl, World Series, Stanley Cup, or an NBA Championship, the sports media hypes up who is the Greatest Of All Time (G.O.A.T.). Even though trying to identify a G.O.A.T. for any sport is in impossible task, they go beyond a particular sport and try to pick the G.O.A.T. of all G.O.A.T.’s across all sports. This is lunacy.

During this year’s Super Bowl week, there was much discussion about Tom Brady vs Michael Jordan as being the G.O.A.T. of all G.O.A.T.’s. Further, after the Patriots lost, most sports media reporters stated that Jordan has sealed the title of the G.O.A.T. of all G.O.A.T.’s. Although, in my opinion, this is laughable, these kinds of discussions stir up more conversations and “sells newspapers”.

Every major sport has the Hall of Fame (H.O.F.). Players are selected into the H.O.F. based on some established criteria and for the most part, those elected are very much deserving. The H.O.F. players were the best of the best during the period and era that they played the game. The basic fallacy of trying to identify a G.O.A.T. is that as father time passes, many things change. Players are paid more and more over time thus their training becomes a year-around requirement. Diets and drugs (some legal and some illegal) have had a profound impact on the players’ conditioning along with their training regimen. Major rule changes make it impossible to compare players across eras. In the NBA, the game was much more physical in the 70’s and 80’s. The 3 point line was adopted in 1979 which revolutionized the game. Like the NBA, the NFL was much more lenient on physical and dirty play in the 60’s through the 80’s. Today, the QB’s are treated like girls and are now protected against both low and high hits. With the implementation of camera replays, nobody now knows what a “catch” is. In the MLB, how baseballs were made was changed in the 1920’s and ended the “dead ball era”. In the same era, rules are put in place to disallow “doctored” balls. Prior to this, it was common to use the same ball for a full game. Foul balls were routinely retrieved from the stands and re-used. Babe Ruth hit 54 HR’s in 1920 and 59 in 1922 thus ending the dead ball era. In 1973, the American League adopted the Designated Hitter to improve the offensive output.

Performance enhancing drugs (PED’s) ran rampant across all professional sports but MLB has taken center stage as baseball records are held sacred with the HR record at the top of the list. PED’s were not available until the 90’s, but the use of other drugs have been documented throughout MLB history. Babe Ruth injected himself with sheep testicle extracts. Mickey Mantle used amphetamine injections and other steroids available at that time. Hank Aaron was known to have tried amphetamine pills for a short period of time as he was frustrated by his lack of HR’s but he quit as it made him ill. Mike Schmidt and Goose Gossage also admitted to using amphetamines. To top things off, Bud Selig was the commissioner of the MLB from 1992 through 2014 which has been best known as the PED era. MLB revenues soared to new highs as over 50% of the players were juiced and offensive output were at all-time highs. Interestingly enough, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, Mike Schmidt, Goose Gossage, and Bud Selig are all in the H.O.F. Additionally, Gossage has consistently said that PED users should NOT be elected in the H.O.F. under any circumstances. It was not until 2005, after the congressional investigations of the use of PED’s did the MLB institute stricter rules and penalties for the use of PED’s. After these rules were put in place, players shunned these new rules and continued to use PED’s with the most notable player being Alex Rodriguez. He is doing everything he can to make himself visible to the public and to the MLB H.O.F. voters in a positive light. Time will tell if he does enough to get voted into the H.O.F. My fundamental question in all sports is “how many cheating players have made the H.O.F. and how many deserving players will never get in because they choose not to kiss the voters’ asses?”.

Getting back to the G.O.A.T.s…

In the NFL, the undisputed G.O.A.T. appears to be Tom Brady. Even though his team lost to the Eagles this year, his performance was outstanding as he threw for 505 yards, threw 3 TD’s and had a QB rating of 115.4. Having said that, the media pays most of their attention on Wins and Losses. With this SB loss, Brady now has a record of 5 wins and 3 losses in SB’s. In 2001, the Patriots were given a gift when Brady fumbled with a few minutes left in the game and trailing against the Raiders. But, the referees ruled that the play was not a fumble which lead to the infamous “tuck” rule. Thus, Brady’s first SB win should not have even happened as the Raiders should have won that game. In 2015, if the Seahawks would have given the ball to Marshawn Lynch on the 1 yards line with a minute left in the game, Brady would have lost. In 2016, if the Falcons would have run the ball 3 times from the 25 yard line with less than 3 minutes left and kicked a field goal, Brady would have lost. Thus, instead of having a 5-3 Super Bowl record, Brady could very easily have a 2-5 SB record. I’m not saying that Brady doesn’t deserve the title of the NFL G.O.A.T., I’m just stating that there are more than win/loss records in identifying truly great players. Jim Kelly of the Buffalo Bills was a truly great QB but since his SB record is 0-4, he’ll never be mentioned as a G.O.A.T.

If I follow the sheep and try to name G.O.A.T.s instead of my belief that H.O.F’ers are the standard, following are my picks.

In the NBA, Michael Jordan is the undisputed G.O.A.T. No more needs to be said about that.

In the MLB, Willie Mays is the undisputed G.O.A.T. No more needs to be said about that.

In the NHL, Wayne Gretzky is the undisputed G.O.A.T. No more needs to be said about that.

In the NFL, Tom Brady is the acknowledged G.O.A.T. Brady has 5 SB wins but also has 3 SB losses. Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw both have 4 SB wins with zero SB losses, but Montana is heads and shoulders better than Bradshaw. Lively discussion… lol

However, if I were asked to name a G.O.A.T. of all G.O.A.T’s, it is a simple choice… It would be Roger Federer. His career spans from 2001 to the present and at age 37, he is playing his best tennis. He has won an astounding 20 Grand Slam Tournament titles and 3 in the last year against much younger opponents. My second choice would be Serena Williams. She has 23 Grand Slam Tournament titles and is the same age as Federer. Serena is one slam victory away from Margaret Court and currently on maternity leave. Her goal is to come back and win at least 25 Majors. I give the nod to Serena over Court as Serena is playing much stronger competition as current Men and Women tennis players are living and breathing tennis all year long.

At the end of the day, G.O.A.T. discussions breed lively conversation, but the H.O.F. tells me everything I need to know about the greatest players in sports throughout history.