Sunday, April 28, 2013

2013 NFL Draft

I like the draft but definitely am not one of those guys who can watch the entire process.  But it is a great time to get excited about what your teams do and what it may mean for them in the upcoming season.  I'll look at my Bills and Falcons as well as the local boys, the St. Louis Rams.  First if you like this stuff at all you have to be looking at Pro Football reference's website which give you easy links to drafts of the past as well as those for each team.  The best part is with each of those you can easily see how those picks have performed by showing you not only the careers stats for each player but also the number of seasons they were a starter, number of seasons they were named an All-Pro and how many times they went to the Pro Bowl.  Great stuff in an easy format from a great website.  If you aren't using this site then you are missing out.  Here is the link to the drafts - Pro Football Reference Draft Page
My philosophy on the draft is this.  Be excited but don't expect the world.  The draft is a crap shoot.  Just look at any draft (I gave you the link above) and you'll see that is true.  Doesn't mean your team won't score big but you have to take it all in in perspective.  No matter how much tape someone watches you'll never know for sure how good these guys are when they graduate to Sunday football.  But like any fan I'll be excited today for what "might be" this upcoming season. 
I liked the Falcons moving up to pick cornerback Desmond Trufant.  After losing Brent Grimes and Dunta Robinson this was a huge need which they also addressed in the second round by picking Robert Alford.  From there they took a tight end from Stanford and three defensive players (DE, CB, S) before grabbing a QB.  Overall I think they looked at their needs and addressed them.  Tony Gonzalez will probably retire after this season and they haven't made any big moves to help the defense which lost prominent players in the off season.   This team was very close to making it to the Super Bowl.  I think they needed to be aggressive in the draft and had 11 picks so it isn't a surprise they were.
The biggest "wow" moment of the first round was Buffalo picking EJ Manuel (Florida St.) with the 16th pick.  I don't think anyone was surprised that they traded back (with St. Louis) or that they took a quarterback but I don't think anyone saw them taking Manuel.  I'm not an expert on Manuel or any of the other top quarterbacks.  As a fan I heard much more about Geno Smith and thought that is who they were going to pick.  I just hope Buffalo wasn't wrong on this.  They haven't had a steady quarterback situation since Jim Kelly retired forever ago.  For now I'll just be excited about it and try not to have too high of expectations for the youngster.  Receiver Robert Woods (USC) was next.  The Bills need someone opposite Stevie Smith and the hope here is Woods is that guy.  Linebacker Kiki Alonso (Oregon), WR Marquise Goodwin (Tex) and safeties Duke Williams (Nevada) and Jonathan Meeks (Clemson) were next and all fill needs.  The secondary needs all kind of help so I was glad to see them go with safeties with back-to-back picks.  Next was the Florida State kicker.  I'm ok with picking a kicker in the draft but only in the later rounds.  These guys are too interchangeable.  The last pick was a tight end/h-back from Arkansas.  Manuel needs as much help as possible so hopefully this will be just that.  Good draft.  Hindsight will tell us if Manuel was the right pick so I'll go with it for now and I'm happy they drafted for needs and picked up some quality players throughout who can hopefully help Buffalo rebuild. 
Great job trading up and picking receiver Tavon Austin out of West Virgina.  QB Sam Bradford lost Danny Amindola to New England this off season and what was left of the receiving corps isn't much to speak of.  They then took linebacker Alec Ogletree (Georgia) with their second pick of the first round.  Another great pick.  He will probably move to the outside backer spot but could be a very good player for years to come.  They went with needs for their last five picks (S, WR, G, CB, RB).  Fans have to be happy.  They've been irritated over the lack of a decent receiving corps for years.  It has probably stunted Bradford's development and clouded the debate on how good a quarterback he really is.  My only question would be why they didn't go offensive line earlier.  They went big with the free agent pick up of tackle Jake Long but that line was horrible.  Still the team had many holes so it is hard to get to picky. 
Extra Points:
I agree with many that New England shot themselves in the foot.  With Brady aging it would seem that at some point they would trade up instead of back and try to get impact players who can help get them get over the top.  Hard to argue against a team who is right there every year but the fans must be frustrated...  The Vikes did a great job getting thee picks in the first round which should make an immediate difference in the new season...  No clue why Eddie Lacy fell as far as he did but Green Bay has to be one of the happiest teams out there.  They were able to address the defense in round one and still get a guy many thought as the best running back available...  Jets also benefited from a player falling as they grabbed quarterback Geno Smith on the second day of the draft.  Now they must trim the fat as they have five quarterbacks on the roster. 

Review: Iron Man 3 Trading Cards

Saw the Iron Man 3 tradings cards at Wal-Mart today and picked up a pack.  I believe the set was released on the 24th.  There are five cards in each pack and it sold for $1.48.  Inside were all cards from the basic set, no inserts, to include #5 seen above.  A "banner" runs the length of the card on the bottom front of each card.  The fronts have the Iron Man 3 logo to the right and bottom of each cards which are horizontal.  The Marvel logo is just above that.  In the left of the banner is the Iron Man helmet/artwork.  The pictures are nice.  Pretty standard fair for movie trading cards of today but I do like the lack of a border which maximizes the area for the photo. 

The back of the card is shaded in red with the card number in white in the upper left hand corner.  Along the bottom is the upper deck hologram, their logo, the Marvel logo, and the same Marvel/Iron Man 3 logo from the front.  To the left on the back is a circle with a cropped image of the front picture inside of it.  To the right is a small description to go along with the front picture.  Again everything is shaded in red. 

Below is a breakout of the set and chase cards:
  • 60 card base set featuring first-look images of Iron Man 3. Four (4) base cards in each Hobby Pack.
  • Palladium Poisoned foil parallel of the entire base set.
  • Actor autographs and pieces of memorabilia that came directly from costumes shown in the movie.
  • Two (2) movie memorabilia cards per box.
  • Look for any one (1) of the following per hobby box: actor autograph, sketch card or on-card comic book artist or writer autographs.
  • Chase one-of-a-kind artist sketch cards from some of the greatest comic artists in the industry.
  • Look for randomly inserted Hall of Armor insert cards featuring the many suits of Iron Man.
  • Looks for Authentic 1 of 1 press plate cards.

  • Link to the Upper Deck press release for the set - Upper Deck Press Release

    Overall I like the set.  Again it is pretty standard fair for today's movie card releases.  For a movie aimed at the younger crowd I do like the price point even if it means you only get five cards in each packNot sure I'll pick up more packs but I'd definitely tell anyone interested that they should.  .   

    Sunday, April 21, 2013

    Atlanta Hawks fall to Indiana Pacers 107-90 in Game 1

    The Hawks go down one game to none after a tough loss to the Pacers.  Defense, free throw shooting (7-14) and shot selection were their doom.  None of the Hawks played exceptionally well.  Josh Smith played like he was Dale Ellis shooting from anywhere he touched the ball.  Of course Ellis could hit most of those shots.  The defense lacked any bite.  Jeff Teague had as good a game as any with 21 points and 7 assists.  Al Horford looked good in the first half but was not a factor in the third or fourth quarters. 
    Indiana's Paul George couldn't hit a shot (3-13) but was able to drive and get to the line (17-18) finishing with 23 points.  He added 12 assists to boot.  Roy Hibbert didn't have a rebound in the first half but finished with 8 while adding 16 points.  George Hill had 18 while the rest of the starters added 13 apiece.  Just an overall solid game from Indiana.  They were the defensive team I was worried about going into this game.  Good on them. 
    As the Czar Mike Fratello said this is only one game.  Atlanta has to know they can beat the Pacers.  They were winning early on in this game but they have to play within themselves if they expect to be winning at the end of the fourth quarter much less win the series.  Josh Smith will have to be much more of a factor.  If he can get his offense going in the post I think Atlanta has a shot.  I'll stick with my original prediction of Atlanta in five.  

    Movie Review: Skyfall

    Been looking to seeing this moving for some time and got the opportunity last night with my son.  I wasn't disappointed.  Tons of action, great story, nasty villain, and the women are always great.  There were very few moments where the movie seemed to slow.  This will be a short review but if you like either the Bond series or action movies in general this is a must see.    

    NBA Playoffs

    I want to look at the playoffs and give a few thoughts going in.  The Saturday games have already played so some of this may sound a little skewed.  I'll start with my Hawks. Atl-Ind - Atlanta gets Indiana in the first round.  Indy is a defensive team that as a collective play very well.  Atlanta can score but I'll be curious how Al Horford handles Roy Hibbert.  Hibbert hasn't had his best year but he can still be a force down low when he gets on a roll.  I'm thinking this will be a wash.  Neither team has an outstanding point guard (Atl - Jeff Teague/Ind - George Hill).  I like having "that guy" who can be counted on to run an offense especially when there isn't stars to make up for the lack of an established ball handler.  Power Forward David West is having a good year and the match up with Josh Smith should be a good one.  West plays a little more low post so Smith will have to play good defense.  I hope Smith remembers his is a 4 not a 3.  He can play smaller but I think Atlanta needs him to play big this series.  Atlanta is a better shooting team than the Pacers.  Their only hope is to hit outside shots which will open up play for Horford and Smith.  Again the Pacers play good defense so that could be asking a bit much.  I'll take Atlanta in five games. 
    Mia-Mil - I'm sure Milwaukee will show up for this series but nobody might ever know.  Miami in three.
    Chi-Bkn - I actually like the Bulls in this one though the Nets won game one.  I'll still with my original thoughts and take Chicago in five. 
    Bos-NY - While this isn't the Boston of three years ago this should be a great series.  I like Rivers as a coach but even dinged up I think New York and Carmelo Anthony will prevail in four games. 
    OKC-Hou - I think Houston will steal one game here but this shouldn't go more than four games.
    LAL-SA - Best breakdown you'll get of this series is here done by my buddy Yaj.  You'll also see my comments.
    GS-Den - I love Golden State but they'll disappoint once again.  They've already dropped one game and Denver truly is the better team.  I'll say Nuggets in four.
    Mem-LAC - Great series here.  Clips are already up one but I wouldn't be surprised if this goes five.  Still Los Angeles will come out on top. 
    I'll look into my crystal ball now and tell you how it all the way my crystal ball has a 99% degree failure rate...  I don't think anyone truly challenges Miami in the East and they should beat New York handily to get to the finals.  Oklahoma City will narrowly make it past LA to get to the conference finals against the Spurs who are rejuvenated by Gionobli's return.  This year the Spurs take care of business and return to the finals.  While I'll be rooting for Duncan to win his fifth ring Miami will win it all. 

    Saturday, April 13, 2013

    Michigan Wolverines Lose Tourney Championship

    Michigan lost 82-76 to the Louisville Cardinals Monday night in a disappointing game.  In theory big blue fans should be happy to have gotten that far.  But as any true fan will tell you, losing a championship is one of the hardest experiences around.  Heck, just watching the game can be a traumatic experience. 
    The Wolverines looked good early jumping to a 12 point lead with three minutes to go in the first half.  Much of the credit for the early surge goes to Spike Albrecht who played extended minutes with Trey Burke in foul trouble.  Then it all went south.   Just like the Syracuse game in the previous round Michigan couldn't keep up the hot shooting and the opposing team remembered they were a good defensive team.  By the half Michigan was only up by one point.
    I thought Louisville did a great job the last 23 minutes on defense.  Michigan also couldn't hit the same shots they did in the first half.  Albrecht didn't score again and Burke had a good game but it wasn't enough.  Michigan didn't get the ball inside enough to take pressure off their shooters who were constantly harassed by Cardinals defenders.  The offense rarely seemed on track.  It seemed to be mostly one on one play with no real plays being ran.  Again Burke did all he could but Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson couldn't get in a rhythm.  And Louisville deserves much of the credit for that.
    The last 23 minutes were so hard to watch.  After seeing the Wolverines dominate early it was a devastating loss.  I'm not sure if all fans are like me but even with the big league it was hard to get too excited.  I am never comfortable until the game ends and my team is on top.  Still I am glad Michigan got to the game.  This was a good team and believe me they could have won this game but Louisville was better and deserved the win.  Still I will always play the "what if?" scenarios in my head.  At least I get to the shirt in the deal...listening dear?

    Sunday, April 7, 2013

    2013 Topps Baseball Opening Day and Standard Set Trading Cards

    Love the retro Astro jersey!
    It is the start of baseball season which means baseball card time.  I picked up a rack pack of the Topps 2013 Opening Day and one rack pack and regular pack of the 2013 Topps basic set cards.  The only difference seems to be the Opening Day logo on the Opening Day cards.  From what I can find the actual pictures are the same.  First impressions are good.  Most of the pictures are basic batting fielding/pitching/hitting pictures but I can't complain.  They are nice looking shots on the cards. 

    The front of the basic cards has the Topps logo in the up left hand corner.  The border of the cards is white.  The team logo is in the bottom right of the card with the players name to the left of the logo in grey, maybe silver.  The player's position isn't on the front, which is something I like, but it isn't something I can't live without.  The primary color of the player's team borders the picture and is part of a "swoosh" curved area at the bottom.  Horrible description so look at the pictures to see what I'm talking about. 

    The back contains major and/or minor league stats.  All the major stats are included but I'd like to see on base percentage on position player cards though the cards do include OPS.  Also included is the players height, weight, bats, throws, hometown, how they were acquired (one of my favorites), birth date, and where born.  A career chase section also has states how far away the player is from catching an all-time record.  Example:  Jose Altuve is only 4,028 hits from catching Pete Rose though they don't use his name.  Not using Rose's name was somewhat of a story before the set came out.  I don't care one way or the other.  There is also an interesting factoid for each player on the back of he card.  I like most of them but I don't doubt some folks could do without them.  I think it adds character.  There is little color on the back.  What is there is the primary color of the player's team with it being across the top and highlighting the stats headings. 

    Not much in the way of inserts in the opening day pack. I did get one mascot (San Diego's Swinging Friar), Superstar Celebration (Alfonso Soriano), and Play Hard card (Dustin Pedroia). None were spectacular but I do appreciate the mascot cards.

    The basic set has some parallel cards to include some I received.  One emerald foil and three blue border cards which are specific to cards purchased at Wal-Mart.  I also had three league leader cards, one rated rookie and one Giants World Series card (game 4).  The basic set had much more in the way of inserts.  I am someone who really likes cards of retired players so the four chasing history cards were really fun.  Stan Musial, Harmon Killebrew, Cal Ripken Jr. and Mariano Rivera were the four I received.  Nice looking cards (see below) with minmal information on the back talking about where the player stands in pursuit of an all-time record.  I also received one 1972 Topps mini replica (Chris Sale), two Calling Cards (Sabathia and Pujols), one Cut to the Chase (Ryne Sandberg), and a Chasing the Dream (Jacob Turner) card.  I like the Calling Cards style which reminds me of the Gypsy Queen set. 

    Overall I enjoy these cards.  It is what you come to expect from Topps.  Solid cards that aren't too flashy but get the job done.   I like the pictures to be a bit more imaginative but again they are good shots that I can't complain about.  Example:  Though Heath Bell had a horrible year I liked his photo to the left.  That is the kind of thing I'd like to see more of.  I'll definitely pick  up more and again give Topps a thumbs up on this set.   Click here for a link to the checklist of the series one basic set. 


    Monday, April 1, 2013

    2013 Major League Predictions

    This will be quick.  Here are my picks for the playoffs and World Series this year:

    NL Division Winners:  Washington, Cincinnati, Los Angeles
    NL Wild Card:  Atlanta, San Francisco

    AL Division Winners:  Toronto, Detroit, Angels
    AL Wild Card:  Boston, Texas

    World Series:  Detroit over Washington

    Nothing too crazy there though local Cardinal fans won't be too happy with me and many will think Boston has no chance to make it.  That is the fun part.  We won't know for another 162 games.  I do think Philly has chance to sneak in there as a wild card and Los Angeles could represent the National League in the World Series but I'll stick with my picks.  That is it.  Again quick and easy.