Posts Tagged ‘Carl Edwards’

The NFL is into the playoffs and they started last Saturday with wild card weekend. So since there where games we made picks. Schaumburg Stu and I went 4-0 for the first weekend of the playoffs while Dan the Man and Mr. Fantasy went 3-1. Dan the Man thought the Oakland raiders would get a win with 3rd string quarterback Connor Cook under center while Mr. Fantasy’s loss was the Miami Dolphins.

Now we’re into the divisional round. There again are 4 games. Two on Saturday and two on Sunday. Saturday starts with the Seattle Seahawks at the Atlanta Falcons. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:35 p.m. The second game has the Houston Texans at the New England Patriots. The scheduled kickoff for this one is 7:15 p.m. On Sunday the first game is scheduled to kickoff at 12:05 p.m. as the Pittsburgh Steelers are at the Kansas City Chiefs. The second game features the Green Bay Packers at the Dallas Cowboys. The scheduled kickoff for this game is 3:40 p.m.

There where no upset in the wild card round and let’s face it the games where pretty boring. All the home teams won and the closest game was 27-14 between the won by the Houston Texans over the Oakland Raiders. Now the match ups look a little better this week; so we’ll see a higher seed lose?

It came as a little bit of a surprise yesterday when the Oakland Raiders announced that they wouldn’t be retaining offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave. The Raiders offense was ranked 6th in the league in total offense and they scored the 7th most points in the NFL. With quarterback Derek Carr becoming an M.V.P. candidate before breaking his fibula in Week 16. It was reported that Oakland’s head coach Jack Del Rio told the rest of the staff Tuesday afternoon of the move. Musgrave was the Jacksonville Jaquars offensive coordinator in 2003 and 04 when Del Rio was the head coach there. Quarterback coach Todd Downing will take over the offensive coordinator duties. There where reports that Downing had a very good chance of getting an offensive coordinator job with one of the teams hiring a new head coach and there are people wondering if this facilitated this move. Musgrave did have his critics. They pointed out how the Raiders offense seemed to be slow starting and then when they got a lead Musgrave would get too conservative.  Now the Raiders defense finished ranked 26th on the season, but reports are that defensive coordinator Ken Norton’s job is safe.

I was stunned yesterday when I saw the headline that Carl Edwards was walking away from the Joe Gibbs Racing and the #19 car. It was announced that Edwards was retiring from NASCAR immediately. Joe Gibbs Racing has called a news conference Wednesday where Edwards is apparently going to example why he’s walking away from NASCAR. Edwards is 37 years old and showed no sign of injury after an accident, yet he is stepping away from the sport. Certainly any team would want him if he ever decides to return. The timing of the decision certainly leads to speculation of a variety of reasons Edwards could want to stop racing. Maybe Edwards was just mentally spent after another near miss at the championship. Maybe the Joe Gibbs Racing driving corps isn’t as tight as it’s portrayed. Maybe he really is a Ford guy who has a plan in the back of his mind to return to that stable in the future. Maybe he has another job lined up in television? Edwards has done some commentary before and is very good in the booth calling the races. Edwards does have 28 career wins, but never did win a Cup title. He does have two 2nd place finishes on his record. 2016 Xfinity champion Daniel Suarez is expected to take over the #19 car. Suarez, who helped bring the Arris sponsorship to Joe Gibbs Racing makes the jump, but it might of happened a year or two early. Joe Gibbs Racing seemed to have quite a stable of drivers and you had to wonder down the line which driver might lose there ride. Matt Kenseth signed a contract extension last season. It’s being reported that Denny Hamlin has signed a contract extension as well. Kyle Busch is one of the top drivers in NASCAR and Eric Jones has been set up with Furniture Row Racing for the 2017 season, but is expected to return to Joe Gibbs Racing in either 2018 or 2019. Maybe Edwards felt like the odd man out and just decided to walk away. It looks like the question now is; will we ever see Carl Edwards in a full time NASCAR ride again?

We had a couple of more free agents sign in the last couple of days. Outfielder Colby Rasmus agreed to a one year $5 million dollar deal with the Tampa Bay Rays. Rasmus is coming off his worse season batting average wise. Rasmus hit .206 in 107 games with the Houston Astros. Rasmus did have 15 home runs and drove in 54 runs. Rasmus has played all three outfield positions, but it looks as though he’ll spend the majority of his time with the Rays as a corner outfielder.

The other signing has Trevor Plouffe going to the Oakland A’s on a one year $5 million dollar deal. Plouffe has spent his entire seven year career with the Minnesota Twins. Plouffe was limited to just 84 games last season do to injury. Plouffe is a career .247 with 96 career home runs. Plouffe spent time at 1st and 3rd base last season, but it appears as though the A’s will use him at 3rd and Ryon Healy will shift to 1st base and spend time at Designated Hitter.

While slowly, but surely players sign with new teams you have to wonder how much longer it will be before players like Mark Trumbo, Jose Bautista and Matt Wieters sign new deals. It seems as just about every team in baseball has “checked in” on Trumbo and you have to wonder why he isn’t signed yet. Apparently the Texas Rangers are the team with the most interest in Trumbo right now. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have shown some interest in Wieters, but there seems to be very little interest in Bautista. Is Bautista the guy in this free agent market that’s going to have to take a one year prove it type of deal and then try the free agent market again next season.

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For the second weekend in a row the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will race on Saturday night. This week the drivers go to the Kentucky Speedway for the Quaker State 400 Due to inclement weather qualifying was cancelled so the field was set according to owners points. That puts Kevin Harvick on the pole with Brad Keslowski joining him in the front row. In the row behind them Kurt Busch will start 3rd and Keslowdki’s teammate Joey Logano will start 4th. Carl Edwards rounds out the Top 5 as he’ll start the race 5th. In the 4th and final practice Edwards posted the fastest time at 187.448 MPH, he was followed by Martin Truex Jr. at  186.528 MPH Kyle Larson was third fastest at 186/387 MPH while Dale Earhardt Jr. 186.091 MPH and Kyle Busch 185.989 MPH rounded out the Top 5 fastest times in practice. Counting tonight’s race in Kentucky there are 9 races left before The Chase starts. There are 11 drivers with a win this season and an automatic spot in The Chase and that includes Tony Stewart who is currently 30th in driver points, but has his win to get into The Chase. Remember now that Stewart has a win he has to stay in the Top 30 in driver points to qualify for The Chase. This is no lock for Stewart as he finds himself 31 points behind 29th place David Ragan, but just 3 points ahead of 31st place Brian Scott. Ryan Blaney is currently holding on to the last spot in The Chase. Blaney has a 4 point lead on Jamie McMurray for that last spot. Right now McMurray would be the driver would make The Chase if Stewart was to fall below that 30th place spot. Can a driver pick up their 1st win of the season tonight in Kentucky and punch there ticket into The Chase or will it be a driver who already has a win heading to victory lane at the end of the night?

It looks like the Boston Red Sox are getting a jump on the July 31st trading deadline as they’ve made three deals in the last three days. On Thursday the Red Sox sent two minor league players, pitcher Aaron Wilkerson and second baseman Wendell Rijo to the Milwaukee Brewers for infielder Aaron Hill. To make room for Hill on there 40-man roster the Red Sox designated outfielder Ryan LaMarre for assignment.

Milwaukee picked up Hill this off season in a deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Hill was having a bounce back season for the Brewers. Hill was hitting .283 with 8 homers and 29 RBI’s for Milwaukee. His slugging percentage was .421 and his on base percentage was .780. Hill is capable of playing all the infield spots, but it looks like the Red Sox acquired him for help at 3rd base. It’s doubtful that Hill would take over as Boston’s everyday 3rd baseman, but could end up in a platoon with Travis Shaw. 

On Friday, the Red Sox started the day by picking up utility man Michael Martinez from the Cleveland Indians for cash considerations. Martinez has played 2nd, 3rd and all three outfield positions for the Indians this season.  In 32 games for Cleveland this season Martinez was hitting .283 with 1 home run and 3 RBI’s.  His slugging percentage was .383 and his on base plus slugging was .690 for Cleveland. Martinez is 33 years old and it’s a little unclear what his role with the Red Sox will be. 

Then a little later on Friday the Red Sox sent minor league pitcher Jose Almonte and minor league middle infielder Luis Alejandro Basabe to the Arizona Diamondbacks for closer Brad Ziegler. The big rumor was that the Red Sox would make a deal for a starting pitcher and they still might, but with Craig Kimbrell unavailable for Friday’s game because of knee soreness, Ziegler would be a quality fill in. 

With Kimbrell unavailable, former closer Koji Uehara recieved the save chance. Don’t forget that Boston lost Carson Smith to Tommy John surgery after he pitched just 2 2/3rd innings this season. Also the Red Sox main set up man Junichi Tazawa  was unavailable Friday due to shoulder discomfort.  Ziegler has appeared in 36 games for the Diamondbacks this season covering 38 1/3rd innings. His ERA is 2.82 and he’s saved 18 games. Ziegler has set up man experience; so while Kimbrell is the full time closer in Boston Ziegler should have no trouble at all slotting into a 7th or 8th inning role.

Now being a baseball fan I am a fan of stats. As a young baseball fan I learned to do multiplication and division by figuring out batting averages and ERA’s along with any other baseball stat I could find. Sabermetrics have a stat for just about everything and I really think things have gotten out of control. Here’s my example and you’ll have to let me know f you agree or disagree. I was listening to the local Chicago sports talk station and the host was explaining how RBI’s are meaningless because you’re just driving in your teammates who got themselves into scoring position. He then went on to explain that there’s no such thing as clutch hitting in baseball. 

While I don’t agree with either of these arguments I’ve heard them enough now to just kind of let it go. There was no reason to call into his show as anyone who didn’t agree with the host was called “stupid” and hung up on. Now the thing that really got me and just pushed me over the edge is when the host used fielding independent pitching stats to say that Jose Quintana was the best pitcher in the American League. Quintana has an ERA of 3.06 in 17 starts this season and has a record of 6-8, but they’ll tell you to throw the record out, so we won’t look at that. I do think that Quintana is a top of the rotation starter for any team in baseball but the best in the American League is a little much for me to believe.  There are quite a few people who will tell you he’s not even the best pitcher on his team, the Chicago White Sox. If you had your choice of starting pitchers off of the White Sox roster wouldn’t you take Chris Sale before Quintana?  

I understand that no matter what I think or try to do, Sabermetrics are the way baseball is going and teams are even using them to build their rosters. Again I have no problem with stats as a whole. I just have a problem with stats that lead me and or my favorite team down the wrong path.

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The Cleveland Cavaliers easily won Game 4 of the Eastern conference finals to sweep the Atlanta Hawks out of the NBA playoffs. While I wasn’t surprised to see the Cavaliers win this series as I like a lot of people had them going to the NBA finals, but I was a little surprised they swept this series. Atlanta was the best team in the Eastern conference during the regular season and I thought they would find a way to win a game or two in this series. Game 4 ended up being the biggest blowout of the series a 30 Cleveland win 118-88. The Cavaliers took a 12 point lead at the end of the 1st quarter 32-20 and that was pretty much the end of the Hawks. Cleveland added 5 points to their lead going into the half at 59-42. The Cavaliers just kept pulling away as they added 8 points to their lead by the end of the 3rd quarter 85-60 and even in the 4th quarter when the game was pretty much decided the Cavaliers still added another 5 points to their lead to get to that 118-88 final score. LeBron James led the Cavaliers in scoring with 23 points, but 5 other Cleveland players scored in double figures. J.R, Smith scored 18 points, Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson scored 16 points, Timofey Mozgov had 14 points and Matthew Dellavedova added 10 points for Cleveland. Thompson pulled down 11 rebounds to lead the Cavaliers and Smith also grabbed 10 rebounds in the Game 4. James lead the Cavaliers with 7 assists. Irving was returning from injury and played just under 22 minutes and it was good for Cleveland to get him into a game before the finals. There was a lot of talk of if he should play or if the Cavaliers should just hold him out until the finals started. As long as Irving came out of Game 4 healthy it was the best thing for him to get a game and some minutes under his belt before the NBA finals start. Jeff Teague led Atlanta in scoring with 17 points in Game 4. Paul Millsap had 16 points and 10 rebounds 8 assists while Kent Bazemore had 12 points and 8 assists, Shelvin Mack and John Jenkins both added 10 points for Atlanta. With Kyle Korver missing Game 4 with an injury Atlanta shot 15.6 % from behind the 3 point line going 5 for 32. The only Atlanta player to make more than one 3 pointer was Jenkins and he had 2. It was a rough end for a team like Atlanta that played so well during the regular season and this will just add to the playoff failures the Hawks have had over the years.

The first chance for Cleveland to learn who it’s finals opponent might be is Friday. Game 5 between the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets tips off at 8:00 p.m. Central time on ESPN with the Warriors leading the series 3 games to 1 and looking to close it out. I’m sure every Golden State fan was relieved to see Stephan Curry come back on the court and play some minutes after the horrible fall he took earlier in Game 4. This was another situation where there was talk of if Curry should’ve returned to the game. I don;t see it being any issues as long as he was medically cleared to return to the game by  a doctor. You’d have to think if Curry isn’t have any lingering issues from the fall you have to think they’ll be able to close out the Rockets tonight, but Houston did come back from being down 3-1 to the Los Angeles Clippers in their last series. Not that my predictions ever work out; so sorry Warriors fans, but I’m taking them to win on Friday.

NASCAR had it’s longest race of the season last Sunday. It was the Coca-Cola 600 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Carl Edwards used a fuel mileage strategy to get a win and propel himself and his Joe Gibbs Racing #19 into The Chase. Greg Biffle also running a fuel mileage strategy had his best finish of the season finishing 2nd. Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 3rd, Matt Kenseth finished 4th and Martin Truex Jr. led the most laps (131) during the race, but came in 5th. Now I’m a fan of NASCAR, but I have to say that I don’t enjoy the races that are won with fuel mileage. I understand that strategy is all part of NASCAR and wins are of the up most importance with The Chase set up, but I didn’t enjoy it. NASCAR has had 9 different winners so far this season; so those 9 drivers look good for The Chase. Now the Sprint Cup series goes to Dover International Speedway this Sunday for the Fed-Ex 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks. Will there be a repeat winner? or will NASCAR get it’s 10th different winner this season?

There were a couple of other races on Sunday. Juan Pablo Montoya won the Indianapolis 500 trading the lead with Will Power a few times late in the race before he pulled away for the win. Power had to settle for 2nd place. The F1 series had the Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday and for the 3rd consecutive year  Nico Rosberg won. It appeared that Lewis Hamilton was on his way to victory in Monaco, but some poor strategy cost him and he ended up in 3rd place. Besides Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel was the other driver to take advantage of Hamilton’s issues and finished 2nd. I saw very little of the Monaco Grand Prix, but I did get to see quite a bit of the Indianapolis 500. Did you watch ither race? or are you a fan of either of these racing series?

The New York Rangers evened their series with the Tampa Bay Lighting last night with a 7-3 victory. The win by the Rangers forces a Game 7 for this series Friday night at 7:00 p.m. Central time. New York had a 2-1 lead going into the 3rd period and then out scored the Lighting 5 to 2 in that 3rd period to pull away for the win.  Derick Brassard had a hat trick for the Rangers scoring the 1st, 5th and final goals. Nikita Kucherov had both of the Tampa Bay goals in the 3rd period. We’ll see if the Chicago Blackhawks can extend their series against the Anaheim Ducks tonight. Anaheim leads the series 3 games to 2 with Game 6 being played tonight in Chicago. The Game is on the NBC Sports Network starting at 7:00 p.m. Central time. Will we get two Game 7’s in the NHL conference finals?

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