Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Andy Pettitte- The Last of the Good Guy Pro Athlete?

For one of the first times I can remember, a player has actually been proven honest and for the first time in MLB history "it really wasn't about the money". Yes, folks, Andy Pettitte finally came to his sense and took a lot less money than was originally offered and a whole lot less than he could have gotten elsewhere simply because "he only wanted to play for the Yankees".
Yesterday afternoon, it was announced the Yankees resigned Pettite to a 1 year $5.5M deal (with incentives to earn up to another $6.5M more). He was originally offered a "take it or leave it" 1 year $10M offer, but I guess they only meant "take it or leave it or take less money". Either way, it was a great job by Cashman for getting his guy at a bargain rate and a face saving move by Pettitte.
Pettitte was the guy every Yankee fan considered to be a "true Yankee". The group of Pettitte, Jeter, Posada, Rivera, O'Neil and Tino were not just the cornerstones of 4 Yankee franchises, they were "good guys", ""clean guys" in an ERA bereft of them. Andy was a reminder of the glory days of '96-'00. He's the guy who apologized to the public in light of his HGH and steroid allegations. He was the anti-Clemens. And all that was about to be washed down the drain when he spurned the initial Yankee offer and was reportedly talking to the Dodgers and other teams with reports of 3 years $40M on the table. All the "he's such a good guy, a real Yankee" talk was turning into "he's a greedy bastard and a lyer just like the rest of them". His moving last spring press conference was another lying athlete trying to reclaim his good graces just to get another fat contract. Well, for one day all that was saved and we finally have something and someone positive to root for again in the greedy game of professional sports. Good job Andy. Yankee fans will have more thing to cheer about when you take the mound in the New Yankee Stadium.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Kurt Warner- Better than Peyton Manning

Yes, TPC has been singing the praises of Mr. Warner for all eternity, but it seems Sports Illustrated and The Cold Hard Football Facts have finally caught on.
Click here for the full article

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Fedor- Unstoppable Once Again

For the first 2 plus minutes of the fight, former UFC Heavyweight Champion, Andre Arlovski was having his way with Fedor Emelianenko, the man considered to be the best fighter in the world. Arlovski is a great striker and his game plan coming in was to out strike the former PRIDE Champion. Arlovski would want no part in any type of ground war with Fedor and even went to the extent of hiring famed boxing trainer, Freddie Roach to improve on those skills. He wanted to stay away from the clinch and any type of take down Fedor would attempt. For 2 plus minutes, he succeeded, hitting Fedor with a variety of leg kicks and a few straight right and left punches. and then he felt the power of Fedor, The strongest and most feared puncher in all MMA.
He backed up Fedor with a nice push front kick (a slight variation from the classic front kick in traditional karate) and then attempted a flying knee kick. Unfortunately for Arlovski, the next thing he saw was the referee asking for a doctor as Fedor timed a vicious right hand that caught Arlovski flat across the jaw while in midair, turned him parallel to the ground, his head hitting the canvas first and the lights were out. Just like that, a fight Arlovski was winning ended in dramatic fashion as he felt the amazing power of Fedor with a classic highlight reel knockout punch.
In his last two fights, in a total of just under 4 minutes he has knocked out two former UFC Champions. He has a record of 32-1 and even his one lost should have been ruled a no contest rather than a defeat. He has beaten everyone that has come his way. I was one of his doubters early on, but there's not much left to doubt. He will probably fight Josh Barnett next, a good heavyweight but not someone that will have much of a shot against Fedor. The only 2 fighters out there that could Fedor a fight are signed to UFC and that makes a fight with either Frank Mir or Brock Lesnar unlikely. Dana White, UFC Boss has publicly questioned Fedor's dominance but the questions now have been answered as he easily disposed of two of White's former Champions (Arlovski and Tim Sylvia). Although it's wishful thinking, it would be great to see Fedor somehow fight the winner of the Mir-Lesnar bout that will decide once and for all the best Heavyweight fighter in the world. Right now, it's hard to argue with Fedor.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Great Presidential Quality

What separates a good President from a bad President, a great President from an adequate President? Is it policy? Foreign relations? Economic success of the nation under the Presidents watch?
TPC vaguely remembers the dark day when the Evil One beat out Gerald Ford to start the worst era in American History, TPC's first election followed was The Great Ronald Reagan vs. The Evil One. It was way back in Yeshiva Dov Revel's 5th grade Social Studies/Current Events Class that TPC correctly picked the 40th United States President. Even though anyone outside The Evil One's identical twin would have beaten The Evil One, Reagan was elected as much for his charisma as his policy making. You see folks, the secret to being a great President is to be a great salesman. My loyal reader, the Ya Whoa's so poignantly pointed out,
" In every election over the past 30 years the cooler candidate has won. I hate to sound like an 8th grader but it is true"
And you know what? After further review, he is correct.You see a Great President needs to be a Great Orator. He needs to be able to "sell his game" to the Senate, the House, the International Community and most importantly, the U.S. public. One of my favorite movies of all time was the "American President". In that movie, Michael Douglas's (if your a movie producer and you need to have a speech delivered, Douglas is your go to guy. Whether it was the "Greed is Good" Classic, or this speech, Douglas is the Lebron of Movie speeches) Presidential approval rating was falling because he was involved in an election and dating a lobbyist at the same time. The problem was, he didn't address the issue of why it is okay for a widower to date a single woman (seems pretty harmless, right?). Anyway, Senator Bob Rumsfeld, played brilliantly by Richard Dreyfuss used that opening to gain an incredible edge in the coming election. Rumsfeld had no policy issues, just kept ranting about a President who had the audacity to date a liberal lobbyist and the low morals of inviting her to the White House. Now, why we might be a little cynical since at the time we had a President get re-elected who was doing a lot more than just dating a single woman, the point was, Douglas didn't address the issue. Once he did- in one of the great movie speeches of the last 25 years (rivaled only by the "I'll take a flamethrower to this place" Scent of a Woman Speech by Pacino, "Greed is Good" by Douglas, "I am G-d" in Malice, by Alec Baldwin, "We are the great American Sooooooooldier" by Bill Murray in Stripes and Belushi's "When the Germans Bombed Pearl Harbor" in Animal House) President Andrew Sheppard's approval rating soared. While this is just a movie, we have real life examples.
Ask the typical American who the 2 best Presidents of the last 30 years were, and unequivocally you get back Clinton and Reagan. Ask who the two worst Presidents were and with a quicker response you get Carter (The Evil One) and George W. Bush #2. Ask any of the people you just polled to name 1 or 2 reasons why they chose that answer, and besides Bush (and only because he's current) they will probably have a hard time answering.
The reason they chose Reagan and Clinton is because they were persuasive. They were incredible orators and therefore were able to sway the public towards there way of thinking. We didn't like Bush because he couldn't "sell" us on why it was necessary to take out Sadaam, Afghanistan, etc, even though the U.S. is a safer place today because Bush did what he did. You take Bush and replace him with Reagan, I bet we would have a lot different perception of our War on Terror.
Obama has a chance to go down as one of the great ones. There is no one who can bring it like Obama in oratory skills. His charisma is unquestioned. He has the public eating off his fingertips. One factor we don't know is how well he can sell his goods to the International community. Reagan sold his so well, the Iranians let the hostages go right after he was inaugurated because unlike his Liberal Wimp Predecessor, the Iranians KNEW that Reagan would have layed the Smackdown on them if they held the hostages under his watch. Same reason with the USSR. Reagan called their bluff, outspent them in the Weapons development game and eventually caused that system to bankrupt itself.
President Barry has a good chance to follow in the ways of JFK, Reagan and Clinton, simply because he can communicate as well as they. Here's hoping he uses those great skills in a positive way and gets the U.S.A. back on top in all the rankings

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

They're playing Obama's Music!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here's how Obama should enter his inaguaration tonight- Hulkamania style..........

Friday, January 16, 2009

NFL Championship Weekend Preview- TPC Style

Every year we have different "themes" heading into Championship Weekend. Last year we had the "Perfect Season Quest" and the "Does Favre have one more bit of magic left" Championship Games. 2007 brought us the classic Manning vs. Brady, "mano a mano" game and the magical Saints, trying to rejuvenate a city in the face of disaster game vs. Da Bears. This season we have two very interesting themes. In the NFC we have the quest for Greatness. McNabb trying to get into the class picture of all time great QB's with a Super Bowl win (not to mention shake the tag of "Best Player to Never win a Major" and "choker" all at the same time) and another improbable ride to Glory for Kurt Warner, who is trying to enter THE elite circle of Quarterback Greatness.
The AFC features the other side of the ball as the two best and most physical defenses try to punish other to submission while being led by two of the younger up and coming Superstar QB's. Let's go to the war room.........

NFC Championship

TPC has talked ad nausea about the greatness and under appreciation of Kurt Warner. Let's now focus about his counterpart, Donovan McNabb. For all of McNabb's regular season success, he has not fared as well in the playoffs and has traditionally had awful games in big spots. However, statistically, his regular season success compares favorably with many recent Hall of Famers and better than a few others (notably Aikman). However, the fact of the matter is, great QB's are judged by their rings as much as their stats and that's why Aikman is considered an all time great and guys like Fouts are rarely mentioned in that conversation. McNabb is the proverbial "best player to have never won a major" since Peyton got his two years ago. Much like his golfing counterpart, Sergio Garcia, a lot of the blame goes to him. Sure, he has carried the Eagles on his back to their now 5th Conference Championship game, but in his 3 losses in those games he has 1-5 TD-INT ratio, going a combined 54-101 for 514 yards, a 54% completion % and a an awful 51. YPA. In other words, he wasn't invoking many memories of Joe Montana and Bart Starr. The one Super Bowl he did play in, he threw 3 INT's had a 74 QB rating and a 1 Major Field Throw Up on National TV. Not your exact image of the "Ice Water in your Veins" type QB. He will be facing history, his own legacy and a newly inspired defense that has forced opposing QB's into a combined 7 INT's in two games. Not a good sign for the Eagles. Westbrook, their real X-Factor has not looked the same in recent weeks. Add to that, the Eagles use the blitz more than any NFL squad (actually second most) and they are facing a QB who LOVES going against the blitz (6th best in the NFL). You have a banged up secondary against the best WR in football (Fitzgerald), and possibly the 2nd best if healthy (Boldin) with a re found running game in a pretty well rested Edgerrin James. This a good matchup for the Cards. They have a hot QB, a rejuvenared defense and a running game, all three of which they didnt have in their earlier brow beating given to them by the Eagles.
I liked them last week, I like them this week.

Final Score: Cards 31 Eagles 21

AFC Championship

The Steelers are an interesting squad. They play a power football game, but without the power football tools- at least on the offensive side of the ball. The Steelers defensively are as good and punishing as any in the NFL including their counterpart this week. However, offensively, despite their recent success, are prone to an attacking aggressive type defense. Basically, the Steelers offense gets handled pretty easily by the better defenses. They were beaten pretty soundly against Tennessee, Philly and the Giants, and they had a very tough time offensively in their 2 wins vs. Baltimore. Big Ben has been physically beaten this year, being sacked 46 times plus getting hit hard countless others. The Steelers running game has been non existent this season averaging 3.7 yards per carry.
For all that, Baltimore does even less offensively. They always beat who they should and never beat who they shouldn't (except last week, when Tennessee handed them the game even though they clearly outplayed them). Pittsburgh beat them twice, Tennessee beat them twice and they lost to the Giants and Colts. They feast on mediocre offenses (as evidenced two weeks ago in the Dolphin destruction) and do everything offensively BUT let Flacco beat them. Yes, he has played well in spots, but he's not winning the games for them. It's their defense, which is playing extremely well and Flacco doing enough, not to lose the games for them.
So, as always when you have two similar teams, both with great defenses, you take the "who do you want to have the ball with two minutes left in a 10-10 game" factor, which at least this season favors Big Ben.
As much as I hate to go with the same picks as The Sports Guy and his horrific track record, The People's Champ says:

Pittsburgh 17 Baltimore 7

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Kurt Warner- Revisiting the Argument

In September of this year, TPC wrote an argument giving (here)FACTUAL evidence of why Kurt Warner is not only an excellent Quarterback, but why he should also be in the conversation for Hall of Fame, All Time Great Status.

This season only added further to TPC's argument and we will detail the evidence.

Interestingly enough, the Arizona Cardinals is the oldest continuously run football franchise in the United States. They have won two NFL Championships in their 111 year old existence, the last being 1947 (a very similar run that haunted New York Ranger fans and their 1940 chants). From 1947-2007 they won a total of TWO playoff games. They have only qualified for the playoffs 5 times total prior to this year. They are one of six NFL teams to never play in a Super Bowl (in other words, these guys make the Jets look like Giants). What does this have to do with Warner? Everything I say. You see, Warner came into this situation with a rookie franchise QB in the wings (in Leinart), won the job through terrific on the field performance and may have totally transformed the face of the franchise.
In two seasons as the Cardinals starting QB, he has thrown for 8000 yards, a 57-31 TD-INT ratio, roughly 65% completion % and an 95 QB rating.
Again, Warner has won as many playoff games for Arizona this season as they have won in the last 61 years. You want to kill the Manning Boys, Rivers and Delhomme for being eliminated early (and rightfully so in each instance), then you must give Warner the same (if not more) credit for doing the opposite. All he did was win two road games against heavily favored teams, going 40 for 64 for 491 yards, 4 TD's and 2 INT, for a 94 QB rating, including an opening 13-16 for 180 and 2 TD's on the road, against a Carolina Panther team that was 8-0 at home for the season. Compared that to McNabb's 70 QB rating and 2 TD-3INT ratio, and you wonder why everyone is singing the accolades of McNabb but ignoring the ever growing greatness of Warner. Again, he has taken a team to the NFC Championship, a game away from the Super Bowl, who has won a total of TWO playoff games in it's past 61 years.
He's as good a big game QB as there is in the last 25 years that isn't named Brady or Montana. Let's look at the numbers:
  • Brady- In 17 playoff games (including 3 Super Bowl Wins and Two MVP trophies) he has a 26-12 TD-INT ratio, 6.6 Yard per Attempt, a 62.5 Completion % and an 88 QB rating. He has a 14-3 record in those games (wow!).
  • Montana- In 23 playoff games (including 4 Super Bowl Wins and 3 Super Bowl MVP trophies) he had a 45-21 TD-INT ratio (including an astonishing 11-0 ratio in the Super Bowl), 7.9 YPA, 63.3 Completion % and a 96 QB rating, with a 16-7 record in those games. He also threw the most famous pass of All Time (The Catch) until last seasons miracle Manning to Tyree play.
  • Elway- In 22 career playoff games (including 2 Super Bowl wins and one MVP) he had a 27-21 TD-INT ratio, 7.6 YPA, 54.6 Completion % and a 79.8 QB rating. He also ran for another 460 yards and 6 TD's a very important stat when discussing Elways value. He is 14-8 in those 22 games.
  • Bradshaw- 19 games played (4 Super Bowl Wins and 2 MVP's), a 30-26 TD-INT ratio, 8.4 YPA (an astounding number), 57% Completion % and an 83 QB rating. Bradshaw was 14-5 in his playoff games.
  • Favre- 22 games played (including 1 Super Bowl win and 1 MVP), he has a 39-28 TD-INT ratio. 7.4 YPA, 60.7% Completion% and an 85 QB rating. Interestingly, until Warner destroyed him in a 2002 divisional playoff game 45-17, you can make a case Favre was as good as anyone in the playoffs to that point with a 25-12 TD-INT ratio. He has a 12-10 record in his 22 playoff games.
  • Warner- 9 games played (including one Super Bowl win and 1 MVP), Warner has a 19-12 TD-INT ratio, 8.2 YPA, 63% Completion % and an 92.6 QB rating. He's 7-2 in those 9 games.
  • Aikman- In 16 games played (3 Super Bowl wins and 1 MVP), he has a 24-17 TD-INT ratio, 7.7 YPA, 63.7% Completion% and an 89 QB rating. He is 11-5 in those games.
McNabb, Young and Marino's numbers all fall short of the above list. Every guy above listed is a clear, first ballot hall of famer. Warner's regular season success as well as playoff success is on par with this group- statistically and proven in big games (only Montana has taken a second team into the playoffs of the above group, and one which was much better with a greater history that the Cardinals and didn't get as far as Warner did this season. In defense to the other great ones, only he and Favre have even had the shot with other squads).

Monday, January 12, 2009

Giant Defeat- TPC Reveals the Real Reasons the Champs are Out

We watched the game. We heard all the pundits and talking heads. It was Eli's fault. It was Coughlin's fault. Spagnola's fault. Well, The People's Champ is going to break it down reason by reason.

1- Eli played awful. From the opening play, a great play design to free Steve Smith on a route that left him wide open, nothing between him and the End Zone. Eli threw just an ugly looking ball that under threw Smith that portended things to come. Whatever you want to say about the play calling, whatever you want to say about the defense taking the "gas of the pedal", if Eli makes that throw, the Giants go up 7-0 against a very shaky Philly offense, as indicated in the first half.
Eli's numbers were: 15-29 169 yards 2 INT's and a 40.7 QB rating. Although he had a statistically worse game in 2005 against the Panthers in the NFC Wild Card game (10-18 113 yards 3 INT's 35 QB rating), I contend when you take everything into consideration- his stature, the team, situation, experience- this was his worst game in his NFL career. This was a game the Eagles game plan was simple- "Eli, go ahead and beat us". Besides a brilliant 3rd down throw late in the game to Dominic Hixon and some nice crossing patterns with Boss, Eli was off all day and it validated the Eagles game plan.
Some have indicated (especially the Ducks- my long time nemesis) that Eli's lack of arm strength kills him late in the season in the cold and blustery winds of Giants Stadium. To date, statistically these critics are 100% on the ball, as Eli has been brilliant in his road playoff games (evidenced by last years Super Bowl MVP run) and his total incompetence in his two career home playoff games. His home December numbers are much worse than his road numbers during the same time period (although this year he showed much improvement at home in December, except this week-when it really mattered). Ignoring the fact that TPC has no evidence or case to base this on, I believe Eli will rebound and show he can win and lead this team to home playoff wins.

2- "Prevent Defense" to end the first half that gave the Eagles a Field Goal, the lead and their first sustainable offense. The Giants dominated the first half on both sides of the ball, despite Eli's putrid performance. The Eagles only score was the result of Eli's interception, that set up a Donovan McNabb QB sneak. To this point, the Eagles had 10 yards in total offense, plus a Giant safety. So what did the great wizardry of Spagnola and Coughlin's genius do? They took the pressure and heat off McNabb (which to that point produced a safety an INT and 10 total offensive yards), allowed him to breath and work underneath and gave the Eagles some life. Again, to that point the Giants were moving the ball on offense (except the INT, they controlled the line of scrimmage) totally dominated with their defense and even their special teams played great. That offensive possession gave the Eagles a lot more than 3 points and a halftime lead. it gave them life and it got McNabb back in some sort of rhythm. He did nothing to that point. This was the classic case of "don't let these guys stay in the game because they will think they can win it" game. To that point, if you looked at the Eagles bench, they were done. Why the great Spagnola (and I mean that in all seriousness) decided to call off the horses on that last drive is beyond understanding. It is also probably why (good news for Giant fans) Spags will be back in NY next year while Ryan will become the next Jets coach.

3- The offensive game plan- Anyone who has watched the Giants the last two years KNOWS the offense starts with Brandon Jacobs and the beating he gives the opposing defenses. I'm as big a supporter as one can be for Eli Manning, even I admit the offense starts with Jacobs. The success of Bradshaw and Ward is directly attributed to the pounding that Jacobs delivers to the defense. Yes, the fact that you landed on Boardwalk with 4 houses knocked you out of the game, but landing on New York Avenue and Marvin Gardens 3 or 4 times prior, is what led to your bank account getting to the point where Boardwalk can bankrupt you. So what do the Giants do? They split carries with Ward and Jacobs when Jacobs was abusing the Philadelphia defense when Ward was struggling to gain 2 or 3 yards. Jacobs has abused Philly every time they play. They are a defensive line that is susceptible to a power running attack and the Giants decided to bounce Jacobs to the outside and have Ward pound it to the inside. Just doesn't make sense. With all the criticism on Coughlin for his 3rd and 4th down play calling (I believe at the time he had no confidence in Eli at that point and was gripping at straws) this was his biggest mistake on the offensive side of the ball. If your the Giants, you have to pound Jacobs inside all day, until Philly can prove they can stop him. This would have worn down the Philly defense and allowed a shaky Eli (who actually looked decent in the 2nd Quarter) to settle in and not have to do too much in very tough conditions (for all the McNabb raving I have heard today, the guy played awful except for two drives and his safety and two picks could have cost him as much as Eli cost the Giants. Only difference was Samuel's got closer to the goal line than Robbins on the INT).

With two minutes left in the first half, I texted my friend and told him the Giants will dominate in the second half and Jacobs and Co. will wear the defense down. After the Eagles drove the field to the end the half, I said "I think the Giants might have just given these guys a new lease on life". Unfortunately, for the Giants- I was right.
With that being said, I think the best team on the field yesterday was the Giants. I felt they dominated the first half, but some key coaching decisions and the total ineffectiveness of Eli, allowed the Eagles to hang around long enough for McNabb to make a few plays and sometimes that's all you need.