Saturday, April 01, 2006

Money Ball

So the logical transition is to move into baseball, which I am comfortable doing. I really enjoy our national pastime, with a particular interest in the San Francisco Giants. The Giants are an interesting team to dissect because of the attention that surrounds Barry Bonds. I love Bonds and what he can do on the field, but after reading about his life outside of baseball, I have become very sour on him. I frankly wish he would retire so we could move on from this mess. But, he has too big of an ego, and wants to hit more homeruns than Babe Ruth, so he will stay until he does. Don’t be surprised if he has another “injury” that sidelines him for the rest of the season after he passes the Babe. If he stays on the field this year, the Giants will run away from all the teams in the worst division in baseball, the NL West.

Here are my predictions for the upcoming season:

AL East: Boston Red Sox
I think both the Yankees and Red Sox will be quite competive and be right there at the top in their division come September. I give the edge here to the Red Sox, not so much because of what they did in the off season, but because of the lack of faith I have in the Yankees starting rotation.

AL Central: Cleveland Indians
I really like this team. They have so many great young players. Travis Hafner, who is jokingly referred to as Pronk (half donkey, half project), could be the AL MVP. He is that good offensively. Victor Martinez, Jhonny (not a typo) Peralta and Grady Sizemore will be All-Stars this year. Their starting rotation is good enough. Their achilles heal is their closer Bob Wickman, but he will lose the job soon and be replaced by young flamethrower, Fernando Cabrera. The White Sox had everything go their way last year. They were 61-33 in games decided by two run or less. This won’t happen again.

AL West: Los Angeles Angels
Vlad needs help. He will get it this year in the form of Casey Kotchman and Juan Rivera. These young studs put it together this year and give them a more formidable offense than most people expect. They have a fantastic rotation, strong bullpen and one of the best closers in the game.

Wildcard: Oakland Athletics
This team is so talented, that they will lose Barry Zito at the All-star break and they won’t even miss him. If Harden stays healthy, he will be one of the most dominant pitchers in the AL. Their offense has a lot of spunk. Each guy out there reminds me of Nick Swisher, and you could do a lot worse than having nine Nick Swisher’s running around.

NL East: Atlanta Braves
There is no way I will pick against Atlanta. They have won 14 straight division titles. I am not real sold on their team, and I think the departure of Leo Mazzone will hurt them quite a bit, but not enough that they fail to win the division.

NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals
This team is regressing, but they are still the class of this division, by a long shot. The other teams have too many question marks. It doesn’t hurt that they have the best player in baseball, in Albert Pujols, on their team.

NL West: San Francisco Giants
This division sucks. The Padres embarrassed the division last year making the playoffs with a record of 82-80. There is no reason to believe they will do any better. Ned Colletti, left the San Francisco Giants to create the San Fernando Dodgers, with a roster filled with ex-Giants. It did not work in SF, and it won’t work in LA. By the way, Ned, the secret to your success was Barry Bonds, which the Dodgers do not have. The rockies and diamondbacks have no chance, which leaves us with the Giants as the division leader. This assumes that Bonds will play half (or less) the season. The Giants could be great is Bonds stays healthy and ignores all the media and hate mail he receives this year. I say he snaps and exits mid season. The Giants should still be able to win this pathetic division on the strength of their starting pitching.

Wildcard: New York Mets
It may take some time for this team to start playing and winning together, but this team is loaded with talent. I like Willie Randolph and his aggressive style to keep these guys loose. It is hard to bet against this much talent.

World Series: NY Mets over LA Angels
Money is going with the Money and picking the Mets to win it all. This will be the fourth wildcard team in five years to win it all.

AL MVP: Vladimir Guerrero
NL MVP: Albert Pujols

AL Cy Young: Roy Halladay
NL Cy Young: Roy Oswalt

More Roys!

AL ROY: Fernando Cabrera
NL ROY: Ryan Zimmerman

NOTE: There is a comment field at the end of each article if you feel like expressing your anger publicly.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Four Corners

I must admit, I have a funny feeling about this Final Four. I, like most of you, felt Uconn had the most talent and the best chance to win it all this year. While they still may possess the most talent, based on the number of NBA draft picks, they lacked heart and desire and should be embarrassed. As much as I like George Mason and all the time I spent talking about LSU and UCLA this year, I still don’t feel real good that one of these four teams (Florida included) will be considered the best team in college basketball for 2006.

By no fault of their own, each team simply started playing well together at the right time, possibly catching some teams at their worst. This final four just doesn’t feel right. It seems like the match-ups this weekend are sweet 16 games.

I am rooting for UCLA, because it will make the Pac 10 look better. Plus, Cal beat them earlier in the year at Pauley Pavilion. If UCLA does not get past LSU, then I would like to see the Tigers win it all. They are fun to watch.

Money’s Trip to the Bank: The team in ALL CAPS is my pick.

GEORGE MASON +6 vs. Florida
I think Florida is getting way too much credit. They are an extremely young team that plays all aspects of the game well. But they are not Goliath, and are certainly beatable. The Patriots will have to continue with their torrid shooting and hit over 50% of their 3 point shots to win this game. I give George Mason a very good shot to beat Florida, with an even greater chance of covering the spread. This line is about 2 points too many.

UCLA+2 vs. Lsu
These teams are very similar to each other. They both play tough defense which, at times, will trigger their offense. LSU has a superior frontcourt but UCLA has more volume. Howland will routinely substitute his big men in freely trying to get the Big Baby and friends in foul trouble. Neither team is incredibly gifted on the offensive side, but I would argue that UCLA is not as bad on offense as they have appeared in the last couple of games. The Bruins defense gave Memphis fits, which is a better shooting team and more athletic. They have proven they can disrupt athletic teams like this and limit easy baskets.

NOTE: There is a comment field at the end of each article if you feel like expressing your anger publicly.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Best of Money

The most wonderful time of the year is coming to an end. How sad. We are currently in the “2 week superbowl media hype” period. After weeks of non-stop action, where it seemed that every game went into overtime, we now have our Final Four. UCLA, LSU, George Mason and Florida.

I plan to discuss the matchups later this week. For now, I thought I would use this time to “hype” up The Truth. Most of my clients are quick to point out when I am wrong, but seldom do I get any feedback for being right. I was wrong about Kansas. They were too young and are developing a trend of early exits under Bill Self. I was somewhat wrong about Florida in that, I was not a believer of early season success, but I was impressed with their finish and selected them as one of my Final Four picks. With that, I give you my greatest hits.

The TRUTH was out there. You just didn’t read it:

This article was written March 14, 2006. This just gives some context to my final four picks.

Those of you who have been reading The Truth know how much I like Uconn, as well as my love affair with Kansas and non-sexual crush on UCLA. Nothing on my end has changed. Uconn has the best talent and a pretty reasonable shot to get to the final game. They are my pick to win it all. There are a few other teams I considered as well, but ultimately I had to stick with the Huskies from Connecticut. If Uconn does not win it all, the title will be captured by one of these 4 teams; UCLA, Kansas, Memphis or Texas. Nobody else has a chance! Sorry to ruin your March.

If you are anything like me, gifted athlete and extremely bright, then you probably have filled out many brackets/pools. I have filled out 3. I think my favorite Final Four has UCLA defeating Texas and UConn defeating Florida with Uconn winning it all.Who are the sleepers? I have three. I think Marquette and Texas A&M could make it to the Great 8 and Georgetown could advance as far as the Final Four. A lot has to go right for these teams to advance, but they have the components that make it a possibility.

This article was a “4 Minutes of Hell” article where I discussed the current top 25. I think there were some interesting comments, both good and bad ones. This was written March 3, 2006.

AP Top 25
1) Duke – Sweet 16 trip for Duke is almost always assured. Getting further will be a challenge.
2) Uconn – The most talented team in the nation…when they want to be.
3) Memphis – Will the “time off” hurt their tournament run?
4) Villanova – This team is starting to grow on me.
5) Gonzaga – I don’t want Morrison’s season to end, but I fear an early exit.
6) Texas – Loss at A&M proves Money’s point. Talented but too inconsistent.
7) George Washington – I cannot tell a lie. I don’t believe in this team.
8) Pittsburgh – I wouldn’t want to play this team.
9) Ohio state – “Villanova light”. Their guards are not quite as good, but the frontcourt is better.
10) Illinois – Great wins over the Top 25 in the RPI.
11) Tennessee – Great offense, no defense = early exit.
12) Boston College – Just another mediocre ACC team.
13) North Carolina – Will go further than Duke.
14) Washington – With Brandon Roy, ANYTHING is possible.
15) UCLA – Typical UCLA team. Not! Great defense, nothing special on offense.
16) West Virginia – They had their run last year. I love Gansey though.
17) Florida – They have really dropped in the last month.
18) Kansas – Exposed versus Texas, but bounced back nicely against Colorado.
19) Oklahoma – Lucky.
20) Georgetown – Still good. Don’t forget about them.
21) LSU – Final Four contender.
22) North Carolina state – Their team consists of 5 similar, not very good, players.
23) Iowa – One of the best defensive teams in the country, with a capable offense. Beware.
24) Nevada – This team does nothing for me. Fazekas is not very good and nobody can shoot on this team.
25) Michigan state – The Sporting News preseason #1 pick. Fourth best team in the Big Ten.

The Next team? NC Wilmington. It starts with their defense, which is one of the best. George Mason hogs the press from their league, but this team could make a run to the sweet 16.

This article was written Tuesday, February 28, 2006. It was at this time that I started to develop my man crush on Brandon Roy. I remember this moment like it was yesterday.

My opinion of the Pac 10 is changing slightly. It still think the conference is very average (don’t get me started on Cal, who now HAS to win one of these games this week to get into the tournament), but Washington is now making a bigger impression on me and I am now comfortable including them in a conversation with UCLA as a candidate to possibly reach the final four. They may have even leapfrogged UCLA in Money’s mind.

As I have mentioned in the past, to make it to the Final Four (I capitalize this event. It is that big of a deal) you need good guard play and strong defense. UCLA and Washington both have that. I would argue that one other thing can help dramatically; a clutch, or “Money” player. You need to have a guy that wants the ball at the end of the game and is not afraid of taking that game-changing shot. Brandon Roy of Washington is that type of guy. He has a good supporting cast too, so it would not surprise me to see this team advance and do well.

So when it is all said and done, and I say the “Huskies” will win it all, don’t take my advice so literally, as I am probably talking about the team in Connecticut but, I may be hedging my bet and speaking of the team from Washington.

I should have stuck with my “mailbag” feature. Who knew how Money I could be. This article will make me famous.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

What’s with your love affair of Kansas? It seems that you “make out” with them any chance you can get. I know you consider them a dark horse final four contender, are there others?

You are right, I like Kansas a lot, but I don’t think I am ready to take that relationship to the next level. To make it to the Final Four you need a team that plays tough defense with good guard play. Kansas could be there, same with Iowa, LSU, UCLA, George Mason and Arkansas.

I went to Santa Clara and am a big believer in the WCC. Do my Broncos have a chance to make the tournament? How far will Gonzaga go?

The Broncos will have to win their conference tournament to make the NCAA tournament. Travis Niesen gives them hope, but their season will likely be done after the conference tournament. Incidentally, my hoops game has been compared to that lad.I think Gonzaga will get to the sweet 16, but have a really hard time advancing any further. It would not shock me to see them lose in the second round. I do love Morrison (more than I love Kansas) and am hoping he plays until the end.