Week 4 in the NFL went good for three of us. Mr. Fantasy won the week with an 11-4 record. Dan the Man and I went 10-5 for the week and Schaumburg Stu had a tough. tough week going 6-9. Mr. Fantasy still leads the overall standings at 40-23. Dan the Man is holding down 2nd place with a record of 38-25. I have moved into 3rd place at 35-28 while Schaumburg Stu has dropped into the cellar with a record of 33-30. Now the question is; can we catch Mr. Fantasy?

On the podcast yesterday (Tuesday) Dan the Man had the New York Yankees beating the Houston Astros 2-0 while Mr. Fantasy liked the Yankees to beat the Astros as well, but he had New York winning 4-2. The Astros beat the Yankees 3-0. Mr. Fantasy also had Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka striking out 10 Astros while Dan the man had Tanaka for 7 strikeouts. Tanaka had 3 strikeouts in 5 innings. Dan the Man was very close on his inning prediction for Tanaka as he had going 5 1/3rd. I guess it’s a good thing they didn’t put any money down on these predictions or at least I hope they didn’t.

Neither team scored in the 1st inning, but Colby Ramus led off the top of the 2nd inning with a solo home run off Tanaka to give the Astros a 1-0 lead and oddly the only run of the night they would need. It was a 1-0 game when Carlos Gomez led off the top of the 4th inning for the Astros with a solo home run of his own to put the Astros ahead 2-0. The Yankees didn’t get their first hit until the 6th inning when When Didi Gregorius led off the inning with a single to right field. Tanaka lasting just 5 innings wasn’t a big deal for the Yankees as their bullpen has been tremendous all season. Justin Wilson was the first reliever called upon and he pitched 1 1/3 rd innings of of no hit no run baseball. The only baseball Wilson allowed was a walk.Dellin Betances came in to replace Wilson with 1 out in the top of the 7th inning. Betances walked Chris Carter and Jonathan Villar was put in to pinch run for him. Jason Castro struck out for the 2nd out of the inning, but Villar was able to steal 2nd base and get himself into scoring position. Jose Altuve came through with a 2 out single t left field to drive in Villar and give the Astros a 3-0 lead. The Yankees managed just 3 hits in the game. All there hits came off Dallas Keuchel who was starting on 3 days rest. Keuchel worked 6 innings giving up those 3 hits, 0 runs, 1 walk while striking out 7, throwing 87 pitches on the night. There where some questions about the Astros bullpen going into last nights game and you have to say they stepped up and answered them. Tony Sipp, Will Harris and Luke Gregerson all worked an inning in relief for Houston and didn’t allow a hit. Sipp walked a batter, but also struck 1 out while Gregerson struck out 2 of the 3 batters he faced in the bottom of the 9th inning. Besides Gregorius, Carlos Beltran and Greg Bird where the other two Yankees to get hits in the game. The Astros themselves only had 5 hits in the game. Tanaka gave up 4 of the 5 hits while Betances gave up the other hit. Andrew Miller worked the top of the 9th for the Yankees and struck out 2 batters. The Astros won the game the way they’ve been winning games all season with their power. The oddest stat line of the night belongs to the Astros Chris Carter who didn’t have an official at bat as he walked 3 times in the game. Houston moves on to the ALDS on Thursday against the defending American League champion Kansas City Royals.

While it’s always tough to see your favorite team play just once in the post season any team that didn’t get into the post season would’ve traded spots with them just to have that chance. The Yankees being here at all had to be a bit of a surprise to most fans. They finished 87-75 and I think most experts had them around or just under .500 coming into this season. No one and I mean no one at all had Alex Rodriquez hitting 33 home runs on the season. With their season over you have to wonder if the Yankees can get back here next season.

If you’ve listened to the Sunday Sport Time Radio podcast you heard Mr. Fantasy and I try to build the best FanDuel line up we can for that day. I kind of unsure how I feel about FanDuel now with the news coming out that an employee of the rival site DraftKings won $350,000 in one of there tournaments. Now I’ve always kind of figured that when you enter one of the bigger tournaments you where playing against more or less professionals. I guess it would be better put as people who play daily fantasy sports for a living. While i would rate Mr. Fantasy and I as above average fantasy players and we both ended the baseball season up money after losing money last season. It took me a year to try and figure out a system that works for me from time to time, but not in the big tournaments. It seems kind of unfair that a person who works for one daily fantasy site can play tournaments on the other site as they have a huge advantage over players like myself and Mr. Fantasy. You have to realize that this employee can see who’s being selected on his site and then just plug him in to his FanDuel line up. There’s also the chance that they may have let’s call it inside type of information on players and teams. I’m sure I’ll still continue to play daily fantasy on FanDuel, but I don;t think I’ll be entering any big tournaments again as I just don’t know who I’m up against or what kind of information they may have access to that I don’t. With this information coming out the New York Attorney general has opened an investigation into this situation.

Tune into the Sports Time Radio podcast tonight 5:00 p.m.- 6:00 p.m. on http://www.BlogTalkRadio.com as we preview the National League wild card game between the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates.

You can follow me on Twitter @Burketime

I asked Schaumburg Stu, Dan the Man and Mr. Fantasy for there predictions for the upcoming NHL season and here’s what I could figure out from what I was e-mailed.

Mr. Fantasy likes the Tampa Bay Lighting to win the Atlantic division. The New York Islanders to win the Metropolitan division. He has the Lighting winning the Eastern conference finals and playing for the Stanley Cup.

He has the Nashville Predators winning the Central division. The Anaheim Ducks winning the Pacific division with the Predators going to the Stanley Cup finals.

Mr. Fantasy’s Stanley Cup winner: Tampa Bay Lighting

Dan the Man has the Detroit Red Wings winning the Atlantic division wit the Washington Capitals winning the Metropolitan division. He likes the Tampa Bay Lighting vs. the Washington Capitals in the conference finals with the Capitals advancing to play for the Stanley Cup.

He likes the St. Louis Blues to win the Central division with the Anaheim Ducks winning the Pacific division. He has the Chicago Blackhawks vs. the Anaheim Ducks in the Conference finals wit the Ducks playing for the Stanley Cup.

Dan the Man has the Washington Capitals vs. the Anaheim Ducks for the Stanley Cup with the Capitals winning.

Schaumburg Stu has the Atlantic division going lie this. 1) Tampa Bay Lighting 2) Montreal Canadiens 3) Detroit Red Wings 4) Florida Panthers 5) Boston Bruins 6) Ottawa Senators 7) Buffalo Sabres 8) Toronto Maple Leafs

Metropolitan division 1) New York Rangers 2) Pittsburgh Penguins 3)Washington Capitals 4) New York Islanders 5) Columbus Blue Jackets 6) New Jersey Devils 7) Philadelphia Flyers 8) Carolina Hurricanes

He has the Tampa Bay Lighting vs. New York Rangers as the Eastern conference finals with the Lighting going to the Stanley Cup final.

Central division 1) St. Louis Blues 2) Minnesota Wild 3) Nashville Predators 4) Chicago Blackhawks 5) Dallas Stars 6) Colorado Avalanche 7) Winnipeg Jets

Pacific division 1) Anaheim Ducks 20 Calgary Flames 3) Los Angeles Kings 4) Vancouver Canucks 5) San Jose Sharks 6) Edmonton Oilers 7) Arizona Coyotes

It’s the Anaheim Ducks vs. Minnesota Wild as the Western conference final with Anaheim moving on to the Stanley Cup finals.

Stu has Tampa Bay Lighting vs. Anaheim Ducks in the Stanley Cup finals with Tampa Bay winning.

My picks went like this.

Atlantic division 1) Montreal Canadiens 2) Detroit Red Wings 3) Tampa Bay Lighting 4) Boston Bruins 5) Florida Panthers 6) Ottawa Senators 7) Toronto Maple Leafs 8) Buffalo Sabres

Metropolitan division 1) Pittsburgh Penguins 2) New York Islanders 3) New York Rangers 4) Washington Capitals 5) Philadelphia Flyers 6) New Jersey Devils 7) Carolina Hurricanes 8) Columbus Blue Jackets

I have the Tampa Bay Lighting vs.Pittsburgh Penguins as my conference finals with the Penguins going to the Stanley Cup final

Central division 1) Dallas Stars 2) Minnesota Wild 3) St. Louis Blues 4) Chicago Blackhawks 5) Winnipeg Jets 6) Nashville Predators 7) Colorado Avalanche

Pacific division 1) Anaheim Ducks 2) San Jose Sharks 3) Los Angeles Kings 4) Calgary Flames 5) Vancouver Canucks 6) Edmonton Oilers 7) Arizona Coyotes

I have the Minnesota Wild vs. Los Angeles Kings as my conference finals wit the Kings going to the Stanley Cup finals.

I have the Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Los Angeles Kings as my Stanley Cup final match up with the Kings winning the Cup.

I also asked for the best player or M.V.P. choice from each conference. Mr. Fantasy didn’t send me one. Dan the Man has Alexander Ovechkin in the Eastern conference and Tyler Seguin in the Western conference. Schaumburg Stu has Sidney Crosby in the Eastern conference and Jonathan Toews in the Western conference. I have Rick Nash in the Eastern conference and Zach Parise in the Western conference.

Let’s see how we do.

Week 4 in the NFL started off right for Dan the Man, Mr. Fantasy and I as we had the Baltimore Ravens getting their 1st win of the season and luckily they did. Schaumburg Stu was the only one who took the Pittsburgh Steelers to win the game and to be fair they where just a couple of missed field goals away from Stu being 1-0 to start the week. As for me I have to make some quality picks that are different from Mr. Fantasy’s; so I can cut into his early season lead.

All in all from a fantasy perspective it wasn’t a great night unless you owned the starting running backs from either team. Le’Veon Bell had 22 carries for 129 yards and scored a touchdown o the ground for the Steelers. He also added 7 catches for 21 yards. While his passing yardage won’t really add up for you if you’re in a PPR (Point Per Reception) league those 7 extra points are nice to have. I’m sure fantasy owners where starting to question their selection of Justin Forsett early in there drafts this season, but he did what he could to change their minds on Thursday night. Forsett had 27 carries for 150 for the Ravens, but sadly for his fantasy owners didn’t find his way into the end zone.

Did you have to plug Michael Vick into your fantasy line up this week? If you did he didn’t hurt you, but he didn’t score big for you either. Vick went 19 for 26, but only for 124 yards; he did throw 1 touchdown and wasn’t intercepted. Vick also ran the football 9 time for 33 yards, but surprisingly he was sacked 4 times. Joe Flacco went 20 of 33 for Baltimore. He threw for a total of 189 and did have 1 touchdown, but he was also intercepted 1 time as well. Flacco did run 3 times, but he went for a total of 0 yards and he was also sacked 5 times and did lose a fumble as well.

When the quarterbacks aren’t throwing for a lot of yards that of course means your wide receivers aren’t racking up a lot of yards for you. Antoino Brown had 5 catches, but he went for just 42 yards and didn’t find his way into the end zone. It was Darrius Heyward-Bay who caught the Pittsburgh touchdown pass. Heyward-Bay had a total of 4 catches for 31 yards and that touchdown. Kamar Aiken was the ravens leading receiver on the night. Aiken had 5 receptions for 77 yards and 1 touchdown. Steve Smith Sr. was injured early in the 3rd quarter and didn’t return to the game; so his night ended with him have 4 catches for just 24 yards. If you’re in a deep league and happened to take Ravens receiver  Michael Campanaro he added some fantasy points for your team this week. While Campanaro did have just 2 receptions for 16 yards; he did have an end around in the red zone that ended up being a 9-yard rushing touchdown. Campanaro is also te main return man for the Ravens. He had a kickoff return for 24 yards and a punt return for 14 yards if those stats count in your league.

The top fantasy player of the night may have been Baltimore kicker Justin Tucker. Tucker hit both his extra points ans was 3 of 3 on field goals with a long of 52 yards. He of course was much better than Steelers kicker Josh Scobee who did make both his extra points, but was 2 of 4 on his field goal attempts with a long of 45 yards.

Pittsburgh did have a couple of defensive players make double digit tackles. Lawrence Timmons led the Steelers with 11 tackles and did add a sack. Stephon Tuitt had 10 tackles and also recorded a sack. Three other Steelers recorded sacks; James HarrisonSean Spence and  Cameron Heyward got them. Ross Cockrell got the lone interception in the game. Baltimore only had 1 player get double digit tackles as Daryl Smith made 13 with 1 sack. Za’Darius Smith did have 2 sacks for the Ravens and Elvis Dumervil had the other sack for Baltimore.

The most interesting series during the last week of the baseball season had the Texas Rangers hosting the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim with not only the A.L. West on the line, but also the final wild card spot. Thursday night saw the Rangers get the win 5-3 and clinch themselves a playoff berth. Adrian Beltre went 2 of 3 with 3 RBI’s in the victory and Elvis Andrus added 2 hit for the Rangers. Derek Holland got the win to improve his record to 4-3. Holland went 6 1/3rd innings giving up 3 runs on 3 hits while walking 3 and striking out 6. Ross Ohlendorf, Jake Diekman and Sam Dyson held the Angeles scoreless and closer Shawn Tolleson picked up his 35th save of the season working the 9th inning. Albert Pujols got have of the Angels hits on the night going 2 for 4 (a double and a home run) while scoring 2 runs and driving in 1. Erick Aybar and Shane Victorino had the Angels other RBI’s on the night. Andrew Heaney (6-4) took the lose for the Angels pitching 4 1/3rd innings giving up 4 runs in 5 hits while walking 5 and striking out just 1. While this win locks up a playoff spot for the Rangers the rest of series will decide if they’re the A.L. West champions or if they’re the 2nd wild card team. Will also know if the Angels are in or out of the playoffs.

Friday night saw the Angels even up the series by picking up a 2-1 win scoring a run in the top of the 9th inning off Rangers closer Tolleson to do it. The Angels took the lead right out of the gate scoring a run in the 1st inning. Aybar led the game off with a single. After 2 strikeouts Pujols singled to move Aybar to 3rd. C.J. Cron picked up the RBI singling to rightfield to drive in Aybar and give the Angels a 1-0 lead. The Rangers got even in the bottom of the 4th inning on a Shin-Soo Choo home run; his 22nd of the season. In the top of the 9th Mike Trout led off the inning with a triple. Pujols followed that up with a single driving in trout for a 2-1 Angels lead. The Rangers couldn’t come through in the bottom of the 9th inning as Mitch Moreland (fly out), Josh Hamilton (strikeout) and Andrus )ground out) against Angels relievers Mike Morin and Joe Smith who picked up his 4th save of the season filling in for injured closer Huston Street. Jered Weaver started the game for the Angels pitching 6 innings. Weaver gave up 2 hits and 1 run while walking 3 and striking out 2. Morin got the win while pitching just 1/3rd of an inning to improve his record to 4-2. Martin Perez started the game for the rangers pitching 7 innings giving up 4 hits and 1 run while walking 1 and striking out 4. Tolleson took the lose pitching 1 inning giving up 1 run on 2 hits while striking out 1; the loss drops Tolleson’s record to 6-4 on the season.

With 2 games left in the regular season the Angels find themselves 1 game behind the Houston Astros for the final wild card spot in the American League. The Angels are starting Hector Santiago against the Rangers this afternoon. Texas is going wit Colby Lewis on the mound. Santiago is 9-9 with an E.R.A. of 3.52 in 31 starts/ Lewis is 17-9, but has an E.R.A. of 4.53. It’s must win time for the Angels to keep there playoff hopes alive as a loss and an Astros wins eliminates them. The Astros by the way are playing an inter-league series against the Arizona Diamondbacks to end the season. Tonight the Astros send out Colin McHugh who is 18-7 with a 3.98 E.R.A. against Jeremy Hellickson for the Diamondbacks who is 9-11 with a 4.50 E.R.A. this season.

You can listen the Sports Time Radio podcast on http://www.BlogTalkRadio.com

You can also follow me on Twitter @Burketime

The Dallas Cowboys are 2-1 and in sole possession of 1st place in the NFC East going into their Week 4 game against the 0-3 3 New Orleans Saints. You’d think a team that was in 1st place wouldn’t have to many more concerns other than winning games, but the Cowboys are in a unique situation. Dez Bryant was injured in Game 1 of the season and isn’t expected back for 4-6 more weeks, but there are some experts saying he might be done for the season. Even though it was an injury to one of the top wide receivers in all of the NFL; well it’s the NFL and injuries happen. The in the 2nd game of the season Tony Romo goes down with a broken clavicle. Romo needed surgery and is scheduled to return Week 11 against the Miami Dolphins. So now the Cowboys top 2 offensive players are injured and out for quite a few games. How does the team stay afloat in what is shaping up to be a winnable division even without Bryant and Romo. Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley will be expected to step up and fill the void left by Bryant at wide receiver. The Cowboys traded for Brice Butler to help at receiver, but he hasn’t appeared in a game since being acquired; so he doesn’t look like he’ll be able to help fill in for the injured Bryant. Now you can still piece together a solid receiving core with what the Cowboys have and with some good performances from tight ends Jason Witten and Gavin Escobar. Maybe there’s a chance they add a veteran like Wes Welker or Hakeem Nicks; who are still out on the free agent market. While this group could never replace a receiver like Bryant they could help the team tread water until Bryant can get healthy and return. Now the void that Romo created with his injury is more difficult to fill. Brandon Weeden was the back up quarterback coming out of training camp and made the start Week 3 a 39-28 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. The Cowboys did send a draft pick to the Buffalo Bills for quarterback Matt Cassel. Cassel is in his 11th season and most people remember him as the quarterback who filled in for Tom Brady in 2008 and went 10-5 as their starting quarterback. Cassel has 72 career starts at quarterback and may be a better option under center than Weeden once he learns the Cowboys offensive scheme. I’m not sure if the Cowboys or anyone else in the NFL know what they have in Weeden. Weeden is in his 4th NFL season, but is almost 32 years old. He’s a former 1st round draft pick; 22nd overall by the Cleveland Browns in the 2012 draft. He started 15 games for Cleveland that season. Dallas signed Weeden as a free agent in 2014 and he played in 5 games, starting 1. No announcement has been made; so it looks as though Weeden will be the starter against New Orleans this week. Too be fair Weeden played well in the loss against Atlanta. He went 22 of 26 for 232 with 0 touchdowns and 1 interception. Weeden seemed to mostly be throwing check downs  routes which seemed to be the Cowboys game plan with him. Running back Lance Dunbar led the team in receptions wit 10 for 100 yards. Weeden is not the most mobile quarterback and even behind what is considered a great offensive line he was sacked twice by Atlanta. With the Cowboys quarterback position in a bit of flux maybe they should turn to the running game with that great offensive line they have. Remember DeMarco Murray was allowed to leave in free agency this past off season and the Cowboys signing to help replace him at running back was Darren McFadden. McFadden has always been injury prone, but last season he did play in all 16 games for the Oakland Raiders, but he wasn’t there #1 running back. At one point in time McFadden was considered a #1 running back and even topped a 100 yards rushing in 2010, but he doesn’t look like the answer in the backfield and has really been the Cowboys #2 running back with Joseph Randle getting the bulk of the carries with Dunbar coming in on passing downs. Now Randle has put up pretty good numbers trough 3 games behind that Cowboys offensive line. Randle has 48 carries for 203 yards and 3 rushing touchdowns. He has also caught 6 passes for 74 yards. The question is; can Randle handle the load a #1 running back is expected to? and carry the team while Bryant and Romo recover from there injuries? Now I’m not sure who’s sold on Randle as that guy and who’s not, but what really matters is are the Cowboys sold on him? Now there may be some help out there in the form of a top running back if the Cowboys where interested in making a deal. Is it time for te Cowboys to pick up the telephone and place a call to the 0-3 Chicago Bears and see what it would take to get Matt Forte in a Cowboys uniform. If you noticed this week the Bears sent Jared Allen to the Carolina Panthers for a draft pick and Jon Bostic was dealt to the New England Patriots also for a draft pick. The Bears are clearly in rebuilding mode and while no one in their right mind would take Jay Cutler and his bad, bad contract the Cowboys should be talking a look at his best weapon; Forte. If the Cowboys came to the Bears with an offer of a 2nd round pick, a 5th round pick and a player like McFadden; so the Bears aren’t short handed in there backfield; would that be enough? That’s pretty good value in the NFL as far as trades are and looking at the Bears by the time the team is ready to contend again Forte might be at the end of his career.Forte is one of the top running backs in the game both rushing and receiving. He’s even managed to average 4.7 yards per carry this season behind a terrible Bears offensive line and let’s not forget he had 102 receptions last season to go with 1038 rushing yards. Now Dallas may have to try to make some other moves to get a player like Forte under there salary cap and that may actual be the biggest hold up to a deal like this happening. If the Cowboys could find takers for players like Randle and Dunbar that would assist in this deal. While you think that might hurt the Dallas backfield; Forte is an every down back and the Cowboys did trade for Christine Micheal before the season started. Forte is definitely  the player who could keep the Cowboys contending in the NFC East while Bryant and Romo get healthy. Looking at the NFC East the Philadelphia Eagles looked better last week, but they still don;t seem to have that Chip Kelly offense under control yet. The New York Giants are still the dumbest team in the NFL and dumb teams find ways to lose games not win them. The Washington Redskins are well the Washington Redskins and while they looked good in their 1 win they reverted to form last week and aren’t expected to contend. Just think of the numbers Forte would put up running the football behind that Cowboys offensive line. He’d be a perfect check down guy for either Weeden or Cassel which ever one is playing quarterback and then imagine the weapon he’d be with Romo under center and Bryant out at wide receiver. Can or will the Cowboys find a way to make this move and would Matt Forte save the Cowboys season.

You can follow me on Twitter @Burketime

Listen to the Sports Time Radio podcast at http://www.BlogTalkRadio.com

How many wins does a good manager get his baseball team through a 162 game season? Now if you have a bad or sub-par manager you can see moves he makes that cost your favorite team games during a season. I bet we could find a few Washington Nationals fans who could point out where a Matt Williams move lost a game for the team. So what quantifies a manager getting a win for his team. Sending up the right pinch hitter? Using the right relief pitcher? Or is it just something as simple as running the correct everyday line up out there for games? Now if any of these moves was messed up by a manager it could easily cost his team a game, but does doing them right count as that manager getting a win for his team. I’ve heard different debates about this and it seems to be that a good manager gets his team 5-7 wins a game and then in reverse a poor manager will lose his team 5-7 games a season. Now I’m fine with that number and I’m sure somewhere down the line there will be a saber-metric way to figure this out. While I haven’t had an issue with trying to decide how a manager wins a game for his team; what I am having an issue with is new managers getting quite a bit of praise for a teams improvement from one season to the next.

The Houston Astros and the Chicago Cubs are two of the most improved teams from last season to this season and they both changed managers before the 2015 season. In 2014 the Astros finished 70-92 and went 59-79 before firing manager Bo Porter. Tom Lawless finished the season as manager and went 11-13. A.J. Hinch was hired as manager in the off season and the Astros are 84-75 right now and have a chance at the AL West title or possibly  getting a wild card spot. The Cubs where managed by Rick Renteria in 2014 and went 73-89. Renteria was let go by the Cubs when Joe Maddon became available and the Cubs are 93-65 right now and have clinched a National League wild card spot. My take is since neither Hinch or Maddon had anything to do with the 2014 versions of their teams they don’t get any credit for the teams improvement from year to year unless they where managing the season before. Neither Hinch or Maddon where with the team when free agents where signed or when trades where made. Now they should get all the credit in the world for how the team is playing right now, but the improvement from 2014 doesn’t go on their resume. Since I get all the Cubs news I can handle living in the Chicago suburbs let’s work with them and see how this works out.

In 2014 Wellington Castillo appeared in 110 games for the Cubs and was there #1 catcher. Castillo hit .237 with 13 home runs and 46 RBI’s. For the 2015 season the Cubs sent  Jeferson Mejia and Zack Godley to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Miguel Montero. Montero is hitting .248 with 15 home runs and 53 RBI’s in 111 games. there stats look pretty even, but Montero was brought in for his defense and pitch framing.  Castillo threw out 33% of runners trying to steal in 2014 while Monteo has thrown out 21% of runners trying to steal this season. This position looks pretty even from 2014 to 2015. In both 2014 and 2015 Anthony Rizzo was the Cubs 1st baseman. In 140 games Rizzo hit .289 with 32 home runs and 78 RBI’s. This season Rizzo is hitting .278 with 30 home runs and 95 RBI’s in 156 games. Rizzo has doubled his Hit By Pitch numbers this season; 15 in 2014 to 30 this season. Now Rizzo’s numbers are very similar from this season to last, but he wasn’t considered an MVP candidate in 2014. Now in 2014 Darwin Barney held down the 2nd base position until Javier Baez was brought up. Barney is a gold glove player, but hit .230 with 2 home runs and 16 RBI’s over 72 games. Baez played 52 games in 2014 and hit .169 with 9 home runs, 20 RBI’s and struck out 95 times. Starling Castro has been moved to 2nd base this season and seems to have established himself as the starter there. He played a total of 147 games hitting .269 with 11 home runs and 68 RBI’s. Now in 2014 Castro was the starting shortstop. Castro hit .292 with 14 home runs and 65 RBI’s, but also committed 15 errors in 133 games. Addison Russell has taken over at shortstop in 2015 after being the starting 2nd baseman in the beginning of the season. Russell is hitting .241 with 13 home runs and 53 RBI’s spending most of the season as the 9th place hitter. Russell has made 12 errors on the season. Baez has played in 24 games as September call up hitting .286 with 1 home run and 4 RBI’s and has struck out 20 times. In 2014 Luis Valbuena was the Cubs everyday 3rd baseman. Valbuena hit .249 with 16 home runs in 51 RBI’s in 149 games. Kris Bryant is the 3rd baseman for the 2015 season and has hit .279 with 26 home runs and 99 RBI’s in 148 total games this season. In 2014 the outfield was a combination of Chris Coghlan who played in 125 games; hit .283 with 9 home runs and 41 RBI’s.  Arismendy Alcantara hit .205 with 10 home runs and 29 RBI’s in 70 games. Nate Schierholtz appeared in 99 games hitting .192 with 6 home runs and 33 RBI’s while Junior Lake played in 108 games hitting .211 with 9 home runs and 25 RBI’s. The 2015 outfield is a little different. Coghlan is still in it hitting .246 with 16 home runs and 46 RBI’s in 144 total games. Dexter Fowler has played in 153 games and is hitting .248 with 17 home runs and 45 RBI’s. Jorge Soler is hitting .262 with 10 home runs and 47 RBI’s in 100 games and Kyle Schwarber has added a .247 average with 16 home runs and 43 RBI’s over 66 games mot of them as an outfielder. Offensively the team is close in some categories, but the outfield is much better in 2015 than 2014.

Here’s the 2014 starting rotation. Travis Wood 31 starts 8-13 with an ERAof 5.03. Edwin Jackson 27 starts 6-15 with an ERA of 6.33. Jake Arrieta 25 starts 10-5 with an ERA  of 2.53. Kyle Hendricks 13 starts 7-2 with an ERA of 2.46 and Tsuyoshi Wada 13 starts 4-4 with an ERA of 3.25. Remember Jason Hammel and  Jeff Samardzija were traded during the 2014 season. The 2015 starting rotation looks like this. Jon Lester 32 starts 11-12 with an ERA of 3.34. Arrieta has made 32 starts and is 21-6 wit an ERA of 1.82. Hendricks has made 31 starts is 7-7 with an ERA of 4.09. Hammel was resigned in the off season and has made 30 starts and is 9-7 with an ERA of 3.86. Dam Haren was traded for to fill the 5th starter spot for the team and in his 10 starts is 3-2 with an ERA of 4.30. Which rotation would you like to have?

The 3 main bullpen arms in 2014 where Pedro Strop who pitched in 65 games and had an ERA of 2.21 with 2 saves. Justin Grimm made 73 appearances and had an ERA of 3.78 and was 5-2. Hector Rondon took over as closer and pitched in 64 games saving 29 and posting an ERA of 2.42. In 2015 Strop has pitched in 74 games and has an ERA of 3.00 and 3 saves. Grimm has pitched in 60 games and has an ERA of 2.08 and has 3 saves. Jason Motte took over the closer role for a while and saved 6. He has an ERA of 3.91; he also has a 8-1 record in 57 games, but is currently on the disabled list. Rondon is still the main closer on the team and has pitched in 70 games picking up 28 saves and has an ERA of 1.72.

I’m going to say this one more time. I have no issues with a new manager getting credit for how his team is doing on the field that season, but it’s when they start to give him credit for the great improvement the team is having from the season before. As you can tell by what I wrote there are different players brought in both rookies and free agents. Players improve or decline from season to season and it’s really the front office that should be getting credit if a team makes a marked improvement from one season to the next when a new manager is hired. As always though it could just be me!

You can follow me on Twitter @Burketime

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Week 3 in the NFL seems to have gotten us on track with our picks as we all where into double digits with correct picks. Dan the Man won the week going 13-3. Mr. Fantasy and I where a game behind at 12-4 while Schaumburg Stu finished at 10-6. Mr. fantasy has retaken the overall lead at 29-19. Dan the Man has moved into 2nd place with a record of 28-20. Schaumburg Stu is in 3rd with a record of 27-21 while I am still in last place with my record of 25-23. Let’s see if we can continue our wining ways going into Week 4.

In NASCAR The Chase is two weeks old and the two drivers moving into the 2nd round by winning races are both from Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR). Two weeks ago at Chicagoland Denny Hamlin (#11) picked up the win to advance and last week at New Hampshire it was Matt Kenseth (#20) who found his way into victory lane and punched his ticket to the Contender Round. There’s 1 more automatic bid at stake as the drivers go to Dover International Speedway. Now after Dover the 4 lowest drivers will be eliminated from The Chase and there are some interesting names that are in trouble. There is a chance tat at the end of the race this weekend we’ll see Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Dan the Man’s favorite driver Clint Bowyer all gone from The Chase, It looked like Harvick was going to win his way into the 2nd round, but ran out of gas while leading the race allowing Kenseth to go by him for the win. Don’t forget that Harvick had an incident with Jimmie Johnson at Chicagoland. Harvick ended up blowing a tire after his and Johnson cars touched and ended up finishing 42nd. Harvick hung on to finish 21st last week in New Hampshire and finds himself in almost a must win situation t advance. Bowyer is also looking at a must win to move on situation heading into Dover, but not because of anything that happened on the racetrack. Bowyer’s car failed inspection at Chicagoland and NASCAR penalized him 25 points and suspended his crew chief. Bowyer and his team are appealing the penalties, but the points are listed in The Chase standings. Busch’s Chase got off to a good start with a 9th place finish in Chicagoland, but had an accident last week in New Hampshire and finished 37th. Busch isn’t in as dire of a situation as Harvick and Bowyer find themselves in, but he’ll need a good finish to move into the 2nd round. Earnhardt Jr. would move on to round 2 with the standings the way they are right now, but he’s only a few points ahead of that 13th spot and if he has a bad finish he could fins himself out of The Chase. Earnhardt had a good 12th place finish in Chicagoland and last week finished 25th. It would be difficult to see drivers like Earnhardt Jr, Harvick, Busch and Bowyer gone from The Chase, but that’s what makes this format exciting.

If you’re a baseball fan you’e probably heard the term good pitching beats good hitting. This statement is really suppose to apply in the playoffs. With the National League playoffs pretty much set which team has that good pitching to move along. Now the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates will have to use one of their top pitchers just to move into the Division Series when the face each other in the Wild Card game. Most teams will go to a 4 man rotation; so let’s look and see who might be in the best position rotation wise.

The Pirates would probably go with Gerrit Cole in the Wild Card game and if they win they’d go to Francisco Liriano followed by A.J. Burnett. That gives the Pirates a solid 1, 2, 3 and then they would have their choice of Charlie Morton or left-handers J.A. Happ or Jeff Locke. That’s not a bad playoff rotation.

I think everyone in the Chicago area would let out a collective groan if Jake Arrieta doesn’t start the Wild Card game. If the Cubs where to move on they’d have Jon Lester ready for Game 1 of the NLDS. After that it gets dicey for the Cubs. Kyle Hendricks is coming off a good outing on Monday against the Kansas City Royals. That performance may have given Hendricks a leg up over veterans Jason Hammel and Dan Haren, but which ever way the Cubs choose t go it could get interesting.

The Los Angeles Dodgers have the best 1, 2 starting pitching combination in baseball with Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke after that who knows. Veteran Brett Anderson has put up solid numbers this season; so you’d think he might be #3 in the rotation. Then is it Mike Bolsinger, Alex Wood or Carlos Frias making that next start.

With the season ending injury to Carlos Martinez it seems as though the St. Louis Cardinals just have to decide what order they’re going t throw their pitchers in. Cardinals opponents should see Michael Wacha, John Lackey, Lance Lynn and Jamie Garcia in some order. The decision for the Cardinals is what to do with the returning Adam Wainwright. Wainwright is going to work out of the bullpen for the remainder of the regular season and maybe he won’t be stretched out enough to start a game, but is he is do the Cardinals plug him into the rotation or stick with the pitchers who got them here.

While the Cardinals look to have a very good situation as far as starting pitching goes the New York Mets may have even a better one. The Mets have Matt Harvey, Jacob deGroom and Noah Syndergaard set and ready to go. The Mets have some very good choices for that 4th spot. They could go with a solid veteran like Bartolo Colon or someone like Jon Niese, but there’s also young left-hander Steven Matz. While the sample size on Matz is small just 6 starts; he is 4-0 with an ERA of 2.27. Where will the Mets go?

Is there a pitcher out there who can go on a run like Madison Bumgarner did in the post season last year for the San Francisco Giants on their way to a World Series win. Either way it’s the post season and it should be exciting.

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On Thursday night the New York Giants beat the Washington Redskins 32-21 to even both teams records at 1-2. Some how this game actually went my way as I was the only one to pick the Giants to win as Dan the Man, Schaumburg Stu and Mr. Fantasy all had the Redskins winning. With the way my season has started picking games I’ll take it.

Fantasy wise it wasn’t a good day to have a running back from this game. Matt Jones led the Redskins in rushing with 38 yards on 11 carries and did have a fumble. Alfred Morris had 19 yards on just 6 carries. If you needed to have someone out of the Redskins backfield the best choice would’ve been Chris Thompson. Thompson only had 2 carries, but picked up 29 yards; he also caught 8 passes for 57 yards and more importantly for fantasy owners he got a receiving touchdown. The Giants backfield wouldn’t of been much more help if any. Rashad Jennings was their leading rusher with 32 yards on 11 carries; he also added 3 catches for 25 yards. Andre Williams had the most carries for the Giants on the night with 14, but managed just 29 yards. Luckily if you did okay Williams he found his way into the end zone on one of his carries. Shane Vereen also carried the football 6 times for the Giants for 23 yards. I have the feeling that unless you’re in a pretty deep league Thompson wasn’t on your radar, but I’m willing to bet someone in your league depending on the size of it owns Williams.

In the passing game it might not of been bad to have either quarterback depending on what your negative points are. Kirk Cousins was 30 of 49 for 316 yards with 1 touchdown. The negatives on Cousins would be the 2 interceptions h threw and the 1 sacks for 11 yards he took. Those will be the telling factors on if Cousins was a good play in your league this week. On the other side of the football there where no negatives to Eli Manning this week. Manning was 23 of 32 for 279 and threw 2 touchdowns. Now Manning is owned in all the leagues I’m but, but he’s not a starter for everyone who owns him, Cousins on the other hand is still out there in some of the leagues that I play in. Of course with some of the regular starting quarterbacks being out injured this week Manning may be starting and Cousins may have been added to a roster. Luckily for their fantasy owners either one may be a solid play this week.

While Thompson was the Redskins leader in receptions with 8 it was tight end Jordan Reed who led the team in yardage with 96 on 6 catches. Pierre Garcon had 5 receptions for 64 yards and Jamison Crowder caught 6 passes for 45 yards. While Reed will be a good play for tight ends this week the Redskins receiver won’t do you much good. I’m not even sure if the return of DeSean Jackson would help this receiving corp. Rueben Randle had a big night for the Giants catching 7 passes for 116 yards and a touchdown while it might’ve been a down day yardage wise for Odell Beckham Jr. with 79 he did catch 7 passes and added that all important touchdown. If not for the touchdown grab it would’ve been a rough night for Beckham Jr. owners. Both Giants tight ends caught 3 passes. Larry Donnell went for 32 yards and Daniel Fells went for 27 yards. It would’ve been a good night to start either or both Giants wide receivers, but hopefully you stayed away from their tight ends.

Now your leagues score individual defensive players; so even though they don’t score huge points per week they can make or break your week. With that in mind the redskins had 3 defensive players get 10 tackles or more. Keenan Robinson led the team with 13 (10 solo), Will Compton had 11 tackles (8 solo) and Dashon Goldson had 10 tackles (7 solo). Uani’ Unga was the Giants leader in tackles with 9 (6 solo) and also had an interception while Jonathan Casillas had 8 tackles (7 solo) and the Giants sack. Prince Amukamara added 8 tackles (6 solo); defended 3 passes and had an interceptions. Also special team wise Rashad Jennings did block a punt that went for a safety; so there are a couple of extra fantasy points for you if you started the Giants Defense/Special Teams this week. Of course depending on how your league is scored will be the deciding factor on if you get points for Jennings safety.

The Oakland A’s held on last night to beat the San Francisco Giants 5-4. With that loss the Giants are eliminated from the wild card race and even though they lost their game yesterday 3-2 to the Pittsburgh Pirates the Chicago Cubs are going to the playoffs this season. It’s never the favorite way for a team to get into the playoffs, but more importantly the Cubs are officially in. Too be fair this has been expected for a while as the Giants have been struggling down the stretch and the Cubs, Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals have been the 3 best teams in the National League for a while now. Even though both teams have found there way into the post-season the games may still be big for the Pirates as they find themselves just 3 games behind the Cardinals in the standings with 8 games to go for each team. That may be too big of a hill for the Pirates to get over in such a short period of time and I doubt Pittsburgh can afford to lose a game. The Pirates are on a 7-game winning streak going into today’s game, but could they take it to 15 and catch the Cardinals. I guess with the National League just playing out the string this week it will give us something to watch. It may also add some interest to the 3-game series that the Pirates and the Cardinals have coming up in Pittsburgh. The series starts Monday wit the pitching match ups scheduled as J.A. Happ vs. Lance Lynn on Monday. Charlie Morton vs. Michael Wacha on Tuesday and Jeff Locke vs. Carlos Martinez in the series finale on Wednesday.

It’s looking like the only playoff spot left to be decided is who will be the 2nd wild card team in the American League. After a great season by the Houston Astrros their last season slide has put them in danger of falling completely out of the playoffs. It looks like the New York Yankees have wrapped up the 1st wild card slot with the Toronto Blue Jays winning the AL East. The Yankees have a 4 1/2 game lead in the wild card race going into today’s games. The Astros hold just a 1/2 game lead on the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and they have a 1 1/2 game lead over the Minnesota Twins. The Astros are on a 3 game losing streak and our 3-7 over their last 10 games while the Angels are on a 3 game winning streak and are 7-3 over their last 10 games. The Twins who are still hanging around have dropped there last 2 games and are 3-7 in their last 10 games. The Astros are turning to  Collin McHugh against the AL West leading Texas Rangers to try and end there losing streak. The Angels have rookie Andrew Heaney making the start for them tonight against the Seattle Mariners and the Twins are going with  Tyler Duffey against the Detroit Tigers. It looks like the last playoff race left to watch; so who do you got?

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Two weeks into the NFL season and one thing is becoming clear to me.We’re not very good at picking winners and it’s a good thing we don;t bet on these games. Schaumburg Stu won Week 2 with a record of 8-8, Mr. Fantasy and I where 6-10 while Dan the Man went 5-11. Through two weeks Schaumburg Stu and Mr. Fantasy are toed for the over all lead with a record of 17-15. Dan the Man is 15-17 while I am bringing up the rear at 13-19. Let’s hope Week 3 goes better for us.

Did you have the Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts, Seattle Seahawks, New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles starting the season 0-2. Obviously it’s early in the season, but have any of these teams showed any signs of coming around to the team you thought they would be. Luckily for the Saints and the Eagles they play in relatively weaker divisions than the other 0-2 teams. Don’t forget that the Carolina Panthers won the NFC South with a record of 7-8-1 last season; so the Saints can easily get back in it. While these teams cab easily gain ground just by beating the teams in their divisions when they meet. Now even though the Eagles did just lose a game to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 2 they may still be in the best spot of all that 0-2 teams. With all the injuries the Cowboys have incurred early this season and as bad as the Washington Redskins may be along with the fact that the New York Giants have been the worst team in the NFL the first two weeks of the season the NFC East could easily be the worst division in the entire NFL. So if Chip Kelly can get the Eagles going in the right direction and that’s easier said than done with the way they’ve played these first two weeks they may have the easiest road to a division title. Of course the question is; can they straighten out their issues?

After there 27-26 Week 1 victory over the Giants, the Cowboys found out they’d be without there best wide Receiver Dez Bryant for possible up to 10 weeks. Then during their Week 2 game against the Eagles which ended up being a 20-10 win quarterback Tony Romo broke his clavicle and was placed on injured reserve with a return. That means Romo will be out for at least 8 weeks and will miss at least 7 games. The Cowboys did sign Matt Cassell to help fill the void left by the Romo injury, but you have to figure this week against the Atlanta Falcons who are also 2-0 that Brandon Weeden will be the starting quarterback. Weeden was 7 of 7 for 73 yards and a touchdown in relief of Romo on Sunday. In Bryant’s absence Jason Witten led the team in receptions with 7, but Terrence Williams led the tam in receiving yards with 84 and caught the only receiving touchdown. Cole Beasely did catch 4 passes, but only managed 14 yards on those catches. While the Cowboys have one of if not the best offensive line in football, but they’ll need to find a way to get more production out of there wide receivers while Bryant and Romo are out to continue to be successful. Will have to see if newly acquired Brice Butler or Devin Street can step up at receiver or maybe it’s time that Gavin Escobar shows something as a second tight end in this offense. Even with a very good offensive line the running game has struggled. Joseph Randle has gotten the most carries through 2 games; 34, but is only averaging 3.4 yards per carry. Darren McFadden has gotten 16 carries through 2 games , but he’s only averaging 2.9 yards per carry. While Lance Dunbar has been a factor in the passing game out of the backfield where he has 11 catches for 115 yards; he has only carried the football 1 time for 8 yards. Even with the offensive line the Cowboys have they don’t have a rushing touchdown. They did go out and make a trade with the Seahawks for Christine Michael right before the season started and you have to wonder if he’ll get a chance in the backfield. Michael has been inactive for the first 2 games of the season, but with the production the running backs have given the Cowboys you’d have to think they would take a look at him. Dallas is off to a 2-0 start, but you have to wonder if they’ll be able to at least tread water until Romo and Bryant return.

You have to think that the National League Cy Young race is won to 2 pitchers. Sorry Clayton Kershaw, but it’s not you this season. Voters have to looking at Zack Greinke; Kershaw’s teammate on the Los Angeles Dodgers or Chicago Cubs right-hander Jake Arrieta. Arrieta made his 31st start last night and pitched a 3-hit shutout against the Milwaukee Brewers to get his 20th victory of the season. Arrieta struck out 11 while walking just 1 last night. Arrieta also lowered his ERA to 1.88. Greinke has made 30 starts and will make his 31st start tonight against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Greinke is 18-3 and leads baseball with an ERA of 1.65. With both the Cubs and the Dodgers headed into the playoffs and the Cubs going into the wild card game you have to wonder if either pitcher will make a 32nd start this season. You’d think both guys would be the pitcher their team would want on the mound to open a playoff series or pitch them into a playoff series by winning a wild card game. Imagine a NLDS series against the Dodgers where it’s Greinke in Game 1 followed by Kershaw in Game 2. Then they could bring them back for a Game 4 and 5 if needed. Even with some of the struggles Kershaw had in last seasons playoffs it’s still a pitching set up any team would take. The Cubs won’t quite have that set up as they’ll have Arrieta to pitch them into a NLDS series it would be Jon Lester getting that Game 1 start and Arrieta would be back in Game 3 or maybe 4. Cy Young voters are going to have to make a tough choice between Greinke and Arrieta and no matter which guys wins it there will be a case for the other one to win it.

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Our Week 2 picks in the NFL didn’t get off to a good start for Dan the Man Mr. Fantasy and I as we all took the Kansas City Chiefs to win the first Thursday night football game of the NFL season on CBS. Schaumburg Stu was the only one of us smart enough to take the Denver Broncos to win which they did 31-24 on one of the odder plays to end an NFL game that will probably see this season. Maybe picking the Thursday night game wrong will be better for me this week. I picked last week’s game right and then went on to have a sub .500 week.

Back to that odd ending. Kansas City had the football with about :30 seconds to go in the game and the score tied at 24. Instead of taking a knee Kansas City decided to run a play and they handed the football off to Jamaal Charles. Charles is one of the better running backs in the NFL and a lot of people rate him as the best duel threat back in the league with his ability to catch the football out of the backfield. Charles is also thought to be one of those type of players that can score any time he has the football in his hands. So it makes some sense to get the ball into Charles hands and see if he can gain enough yards to allow the Chiefs to win the game in regulation. Alex Smith hands the football off to Charles and while he’s on his way to the ground he’s hit by a Broncos defender and the football pops out. Bradley Roby of the Broncos was right there when the ball came out and was able to pick it up and return it 21 yards for a touchdown and a Denver win. This is where it all starts. I’m sure before both teams got off the field there where people questioning Chiefs head coach Andy Reid’s decision t run a play and not just kneel down and tale the game into overtime. One of the first things I heard was people comparing it t a play that happened in a game quite a few years ago between the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles. The big difference there was the Giants where down on their own goal line when they ran there play. So right away Reid is taking all the blame for this loss and as a head coach he accepts it for his team, but is it really his fault? While Reid did call the play he wasn’t the one who put the football on the ground. I think that Charles has to take the majority of the blame for this loss, but it doesn’t seem to be going that way. People point to the fact that Charles had fumbled earlier in the game as reason for the Chiefs to just kneel down and head into overtime. In 2013 Charles led the NFL in fumbles with 19 and last season (2014) he fumbled 14 times. Charles averaged a fumble every 17 touches last season. Now think of how people would’ve reacted had Charles broken the run off and it help Kansas City get into field goal range and win the game. They’d be touting Reid as the greatest coach in the NFL today and it would’ve been a great play call. I’d also like to see a little bit of blame given to Smith as well. Smith was the last Chiefs player with a chance to stop Roby from scoring and he had a clean shot at him. Now I know that teams don’t like their starting quarterbacks to even try to make tackles and earlier in the game Peyton Manning just watched as Marcus Peters picked off one of his passes and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown, but this situation is a little different. Now even if Smith makes the tackle there’s a better than average chance that Denver just kicks a field goal to win the game, but there’s also a chance they miss that field goal and the game goes into over time. I’m not even sure if Smith touched Roby and after he got past Smith there was nothing between him and winning the game.

It’s a tough loss for the Chiefs who jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the game only to watch Denver come back and tie it up. After the teams traded field goals it looked like Knile Davis’ 8 yard touchdown run to give the Chiefs a 24-17 lead might be the game winner. Manning responded by taking the Broncos on a 10 play 80 yard drive capped off by a 19 yard touchdown pass to Emmanuel Sanders to tie the game at 24 which led to the Charles fumble and the game winning return.

Fantasy wise Manning threw for 3 touchdowns and 256 yards in the game, but did throw 1 interception. Smith wasn’t much help for your fantasy team as he threw for 191 yards, but was picked off 2 times in the game. He did add 15 yards rushing for you. Denver’s running backs won’t end up being much help to you this week. Ronnie Hillman was their leading rusher with 34 yards on 9 carries and they didn’t have a rushing touchdown. Despite the fumble Charles had 21 carries for 125 yards and a touchdown. Sanders and Demaryius Thomas each had 8 catches for Denver and while Thomas had more yards (116) Sanders caught 2 touchdown passes to go with 87 yards. Travis Kelce and Jeremy Maclin each had 4 catches to lead the Chiefs. Kelce had 1 more yard  receiving than Maclin 58 to 57. Don’t forget that both teams defenses scored in this game.

It looked like Dallas Keuchel was going to have a chance to establish himself as the top candidate for the AL Cy Young if he had a good outing against the Texas Rangers on Wednesday. Keuchel’s team the Houston Astros had just fallen out of 1st place in the AL West by losing the first two games of there series against the Rangers, but a win would put them right back in 1st place. Keuchel lasted 4 2/3rd innings giving up 9 runs on 11 hits; 3 of which where home runs. It was Keuchel’s shortest outing of the season and it couldn’t of come at a worse time for him or his team. If the door is open for someone else to join the Cy Young race who would it be. David Price may  be that next pitcher in line. Price is 16-5 and leads the AL in ERA at 2.42. Price is also 4th in the AL in strikeouts with 212. Keuchel of course may still be the front runner as he is tied for the AL lead in wins with 17 and is 2nd behind Price in ERA at 2.56. Is it a 2 man race or are there any other contenders. Sonny Gray is tied for 2nd in ERA with Keuchel and is 13-7 on the season, but his team isn’t contending and voters seem to lean towards players on winning teams. Felix Hernandez is tied with Keuchel with 17 wins, but he’s also on a non-contending team. Colby Lewis is 16-8 for the 1st place Rangers, but he has an ERA of 4.41. Chris Archer has had a solid year 12-12 with an ERA of 2.95 and is 2nd in the AL in strikeouts with 243, but with Tampa bay fading in the wild card race he may be over looked. Let’s look some place Cy Young voters  never seem to look; the bullpen. How about Andrew Miller. The Yankees closer has saved 34 of 35 games this season. He has an ERA of 1.80 covering 55 innings in 54 games. Miller has a WHIP of 0.800 and a strikeouts per 9 innings rate of 14.6. It seems difficult for Cy Young voters to vote for a reliever, but with no starting pitcher running away with the award this might be the year to look that way.

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Week 1 of the NFL season is in the books and Mr. Fantasy had the best week of picks in our little contest. He ends Week 1 with an 11-5 record. Dan the Man is a game back at 10-5 while Schaumburg was 9-7 for Week 1. Sadly I was a huge embarrassment going 7-9 for the first week of the season. Looks like I have quite a hole to dig myself out of right from the start of the season.

So if your a New York Giants fan and your team misses winning the NFC East by 1 game or just happens t miss the playoffs by 1 game you can look back at their Week 1 (27-26) loss to the Dallas Cowboys as the reason for it. This was far and away the stupidest football played by any team in Week 1. The Giants where on the Cowboys 2-yard line with about 1:40 to go in the game with Dallas having no timeouts. On 3rd down instead of just jamming the football int the line and trying to pound it in for a touchdown Eli Manning decides that he’s going to throw for it. Now there’s no issue with that, but as he rolled to his right he threw the ball away. Now I don’t know if he forgot the situation or is just dumb, but he stopped the clock. Then instead of going for it on 4th down the Giants decided to take the field goal and give themselves a 6-point lead. If Manning would’ve taken the sack and then New York would’ve just ran the ball on 4th down they would’ve had a 3-point lead with about .45 seconds to go in the game and Dallas would have to go 98 or 99 yards for a touchdown to win the game. So the Giants opt for the field goal and then they have to kickoff to the Cowboys. Oddly they decided to squib kick instead of just kicking out of the end zone and making Dallas start from the 20- yard line. This of course backfires as well and Dallas ends up wit the football at the 30-yard line instead where they easily drove down into scoring position. Dallas went 72 yards in 1:27 and Tony Romo even dropped the last snap he took before picking up the football and throwing the game winning touchdown pass to Jason Witten. With as easily as Dallas moved the football on their last drive could they of done the same if they had started at their own 1-yard line. I’m sure they could’ve, but remember they would’ve had far less time if Manning doesn’t throw the football away and if they had ran the football instead of kicking the field goal. Even stranger a story came out that on 1st and 2nd down Manning told running back Rashad Jennings not to score to run some time off the clock. I guess Manning’s math is bad because a touchdown and the extra point would’ve given the Giants a 10 point lead and Dallas would’ve needed 2 scores to tie or win the game. Manning has actual confirmed that he told Jennings this and Jennings has apologized for more or less throwing Manning under the bus to the media. 2015 is Manning’s 12th season in the NFL he’s a 3-time pro bowler and has won 2 Super Bowls. What I’m wondering is how? It’s almost as if Manning didn’t want Jennings to score so he could throw a game winning touchdown pass and be the hero. I’m sure that wasn’t it, but the shear stupidity of the situation is just impossible to figure out. Now I myself was dumb enough to pick the Giants to win the game on Sunday night and I also having them winning the NFC East this season. Looking back at that; maybe I’m the dumb one.

It’s looking as though the Chicago Cubs will end up with one of the two National League wild card spots. Now the debate has started; who is the Cubs starting pitcher for that game? Everyone I know and have spoken to on the podcast think it’s a slam dunk that Jake Arrieta will get the ball for that game, but I’m the one not sure about that. With the season Arrieta has had 19-6 in 29 starts with an ERA of 1.99 with 3 complete games and 2 shutouts as well. Arrieta goes for his 20th win tonight against the Pittsburgh Pirates. If it’s not Arrieta; who would be the other Cubs option? Jon Lester is the answer. Lester is 10-10 in 29 starts with an ERA of 3.38 with 1 complete game which he threw yesterday (Tuesday) against the Pirates. Lester was given big money in free agency last off season to pitch these kind of games. Lester has had his issues, but his last 2 September starts have been good. He went 7 innings against the St. Louis Cardinals giving up 1 run on 2 hits while walking 1 and striking out 7 in a no decision. Against the Pirates last night (Tuesday) Lester went 9 innings giving up 1 run on 5 hits while walking 1 and striking out 9. Now I’m in the Arrieta camp here. I think he should get the ball for the wild card game but you’re going to hear about Lester’s post season experience in comparison to Arrieta’s; who’s never pitched in a post season game. My question is, does Joe Maddon make this decision or does the front office of General Manager Jed Hoyer and team President Theo Epstein get involved. Which ever pitcher gets that start in the wild card game if the Cubs don;t win it there are going to be questions as to why they didn’t start the other pitcher.

The Texas Rangers took over 1st place in the American League West by a 1/2 game last night when they beat the Houston Astros for the 2nd time in a row 6-5. On Monday the Rangers won the first game of the series 5-3. Last night it was 5-5 going into the bottom of the 9th. Prince Fielder led off with a single off of Oliver Perez. Will Harris came out of the Astros bullpen to replace Perez and face Adrian Beltre. Drew Stubbs enters the game as a pinch runner for Fielder. Beltre singles to centerfield and Stubbs goes to 3rd base. It’s 1st and 3rd for Mitch Moreland. The 1st pitch of the at bat is a ball. Moreland hits the 2nd pitch to centerfield and Stubbs tags and scores to win the game and put the Rangers in 1st place. While a sacrifice fly isn’t the exciting highlight the networks like when it comes to walk offs I’m guess the Rangers could care less. The Astros look to get back into 1st place as they send Dallas Keuchel to the mound. Keuchel is a 3-time pitcher of the month. He leads the AL in ERA (2.22) innings pitched (206 2/3rd) and my favorite stat WAR (7.1). Keuchel is 13-0 at home, but just 4-7 with a 3.13 ERA on the road. By the way the Rangers are the home team. Keuchel does have a win over the Rangers this season, but it was back in April. The Rangers are going wit Martin Perez on the mound. Perez is 1-3 with a 5.64 ERA over his last 4 starts. His win was at home, but his home ERA is 5.82. Perez is 3-1 with an ERA of 2.17 in 4 career starts against the Astros. These two teams have a 3-game series on the 25th, 26th and 27th of this month whcih may decide who wins the AL West.

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