Sunday, September 30, 2012

Lounge on YouTube: Mini-Episode #193 – NFL Week 4 fantasy football

By Rick Morris
Here is the 193rd mini-episode of THE FDH LOUNGE with THE FANTASYDRAFTHELP.COM INSIDER.  In this one, we preview the NFL Week 4 fantasy football landscape.

Lounge on YouTube: 2012 NFL Week 4 picks

By Rick Morris
Here is Mini-Episode #192 of THE FDH LOUNGE, a preview of the NFL Week 4 slate with FDH Lounge Dignitary Kyle Ross.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

NCAA Week 5 picks

By Rick Morris
NOTE 3-2 last week, 13-7 for the season
Michigan State -2 ½ over Ohio State
Georgia -14 over Tennessee
Texas -2 ½ over Oklahoma State
Wisconsin +11 ½ over Nebraska
Miami -2 over North Carolina

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

NFL Week 4 power rankings

By Rick Morris
NOTE: Previous weeks’ rankings in parentheses, Week 1 to present.
1 Atlanta (7-3-2)
2 Houston (2-2-3)
3 New York Giants (5-9-5)
4 Green Bay (1-5-4)
5 San Francisco (10-4-1)
6 Baltimore (6-6-6)
7 Chicago (8-7-9)
8 Arizona (23-22-16)
9 New England (3-1-7)
10 Dallas (16-8-12)
11 Pittsburgh (9-10-8)
12 Philadelphia (4-11-10)
13 Seattle (11-17-17)
14 San Diego (12-15-11)
15 Cincinnati (18-21-20)
16 New York Jets (20-13-15)
17 Denver (21-12-14)
18 Tennessee (13-16-22)
19 Buffalo (14-24-24)
20 Detroit (17-14-18)
21 Carolina (15-18-13)
22 Minnesota (30-28-29)
23 Tampa Bay (26-23-19)
24 Kansas City (22-25-27)
25 Washington (29-20-21)
26 Oakland (25-29-31)
27 St. Louis (28-27-26)
28 Jacksonville (31-31-30)
29 Indianapolis (24-26-25)
30 New Orleans (19-19-23)
31 Miami (27-30-28)
32 Cleveland (32-32-32)

BIGGEST RISERS: Arizona (8 spots), Minnesota (7 spots), Buffalo, Cincinnati and Oakland (5 spots), Seattle and Tennessee (4 spots), Kansas City (3 spots)
BIGGEST FALLERS: Carolina (8 spots), New Orleans (7 spots), Indianapolis, San Francisco, Tampa Bay and Washington (4 spots), Denver, Miami, Pittsburgh and San Diego (3 spots)
1 NFC East 50
2T NFC North 53
2T NFC West 53
4 AFC North 64
5T NFC South 75
5T AFC East 75
7 AFC South 77
8 AFC West 81
1 NFC 231
2 AFC 299

No person or entity can damage NFL integrity like the NFL

By Steve Kallas (posted by Rick Morris)

Hard to believe that it has gone this far, but it has gone this far.  The disgrace of the NFL continues on a weekly (daily?) basis.  With the obligatory “the replacement refs are trying their best” out of the way, let’s take a look at how the NFL is killing the integrity of the NFL.


If yesterday’s final play (blatant offensive pass interference by Seattle, obvious interception by Green Bay ruled game-winning touchdown (14-12) for Seattle) doesn’t convince these owners and the Commissioner to settle their dispute with the real refs, nothing will.

What is wrong with these billionaires?  Well, not surprisingly, it’s all about power.  Why is the NFL doing this?  Because they can, that’s why.

We’ve already had a number of these plays, just nothing as blatant and obviously game-deciding as last night.  There was that mystery hold on Rob Gronkowski that, according to Fox rules expert Mike Pereira, should have never been called.  That turned a Patriots win against Arizona into a Patriots loss.  There was that brutal non-call when Ziggy Hood of the Steelers got obviously chop-blocked with 21 seconds left in a tie game with the Raiders this past Sunday.  Rather than moving the Raiders back 15 yards and (maybe) taking them out of field goal range, Sebastian Janikowski kicked a game-winning 44-yard field goal in regulation, avoiding overtime.

While these are just two examples, there are many others. 

And, again, it’s not the fault of these referees.  It’s the fault of the monopoly, the NFL.


Well, coaches have been working officials forever.  But with these refs, it looks like, at least for the first two weeks of the season, the coaches trying to intimidate and/or cajole officials into changing calls was the norm.  Even after the NFL came out with their “don’t harass the officials memo” before week 3, the harassment, maybe more subtle, continued against these replacement refs.    

But what else can a coach do?  Clearly some officials are intimidated, are trying to satisfy both teams (a virtual impossibility).  The coach who does nothing is a fool under these circumstances.  Squeaky wheel gets the oil – and the close call.

None of this will change until the real refs are back.


Well, good luck with that.  Players have no idea what will and won’t be called.  It’s a crapshoot.  No consistency on what’s going to be called because these refs, at this game speed, will sometimes see things and sometimes won’t.  They will sometimes make the call and sometimes won’t.  It’s like a baseball ump who is inconsistent with his strike zone.  You better go up swinging cause you have no idea what a strike is today – or next inning.

So the players take a shot.  They grab, they hold more than usual, they chop block, they know the refs may not see it and, even if they do (see the last play of Green Bay-Seattle), they may not call it. 

It’s the Wild, Wild West out there. 

And the players know it.


While the NFL claims to not care about gambling (yeah, right, are you waiting for this week’s injury reports?), the reality is this is a place where the NFL might actually be hurt (it’s already been slaughtered, integrity-wise.  Ask any fan).

How can anybody bet real money on any game with any belief that it will be competently officiated?  We can debate all day about how much of the popularity of the NFL is based on gambling of some sort (it says here that a large part of the NFL’s popularity is based on gambling (or “gaming,” as it is now being sanitized)), but the reality is betting on NFL games is a multi-billion dollar industry in and of itself.

No intelligent gambler can any longer bet these games (unless they find some consistent incompetence in the refereeing that they can use to their advantage in a specific game).

And whether they admit it or not, the NFL can’t like that.


Well, that’s easy.  End the madness now.  If the reports are true that the differences between the ref’s association and the NFL is somewhere in the neighborhood of $4-5 million per year, well, that’s chump change to the $12 billion-a-year NFL.

But again, as you may see in your life, the man with the power can and does stupid things, can and does do incompetent things, can and does make irrational decisions.

Why?  Cause he (she/they) can, that’s why.  The NFL, with its lockout of the refs, is acting like an employer in the 1920s – take it or leave it; if you don’t take it, we’ll find someone else.

How’s that working out for the NFL, especially integrity-wise?


While a separate issue, Bounty-gate is just another example of this attitude (while some say the Commissioner has no real input into the referee dispute, the New Orleans debacle is all the Commissioner).

How can you leave these players twisting in the wind?  How would you like to be a Saints’ fan, essentially seeing your season done after three games (with the interim, interim coach filling in for the interim coach filling in for the coach).

No “decision” yet.  Why?  Good question, but you don’t think that the Commisioner is going to let these guys off scot-free, do you?  He’s got to save face, doesn’t he?  What about the integrity of the New Orleans NFL franchise for the 2012 NFL season?

Poof.  Up in smoke.

Whether the powers-that-be understand this or not, the NFL would have been better off if they had some rogue refs trying to fix NFL games.  Why?  Because you would get rid of them, take your lumps for a short period of time (see the NBA, for example) and then get on with your schedule.

Here, the NFL has shot themselves in the foot.  It’s all a self-inflicted wound.  Why?  Because they stupidly drew a line in the sand and now, stupidly, are sticking to it.  Why?  Because they can.

Hopefully, this latest embarrassment will push them over the edge.

Or, at least, over their own stupidly-imposed line.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Yankees win miracle game, Cano loafs after another ball

By Steve Kallas (posted by Rick Morris)

The Yankees win a miracle game over the Oakland A’s in 14 innings after getting down four runs in the 13th inning and everybody is talking about the impossible comeback (only the second time in the storied history of the New York Yankees that they came back to win after being down at least four runs in extra innings).  While that, rightly, is the focus of all articles on the game, this article is about something much more subtle – the inability (or lack of desire) of Robinson Cano to hustle in the field.


Well, you will recall that just a few weeks ago, on Monday, September 3, in a game against Tampa Bay, Cano refused to leave his feet to try and knock down a ground ball to his left.  The resulting single to right by Chris Gimenez allowed Ryan Roberts to easily score what proved to be the winning run in a 4-3 Tampa victory.

All of this happened in the middle of a division/wild card race where, for the first time, nobody wants to be the wild card (because of the one-game playoff) if they can win the division.  Many roundly criticized Cano for his perceived lack of effort but he said he was hurt and Joe Girardi said he thought that Cano simply misjudged the grounder and couldn’t get to it.


Clealy lost in the shuffle, there was another play yesterday that might actually signal the start of a new era (error?) in baseball.  Top 7, Yankees up 5-4 (still, obviously, in a division/wild card race with the surprisingly good Orioles for Manager of the Year Buck Showalter), man on first, one out, Brandon Moss at the plate.

Moss hits a ground ball between first and second.  Maybe Nick Swisher should have caught it; maybe not.  In any event, Cano moves to his left, clearly assumes that Swisher will catch the ball, slows down and, when Swisher doesn’t catch it, Cano watches the ball go by him and into right field.  Yoenis Cespedes, the runner on first with good speed, moves on to third.


Well, here’s the big deal.  With one out, at a minimum, you want to keep the ball in the infield.  It’s late in the game, the Yankees have a one-run lead and, by loafing to the ball, presumably assuming that Nick Swisher would catch it (Swisher is ok at first but he’s no Mark Teixeira down there), he allowed the tying run to go to third with one out. 

Once at third, with less than two out, Cespedes, with good speed, could easily score on a sacrifice fly.  Which is exactly what happened as Chris Carter flies out to center and Cespedes scores the tying run.

While you never know what is going to happen after a play in a baseball game, what you do know is this:  if Robinson Cano hustled to his left, at a minimum, Cespedes does not get to third.  And then it would be impossible for him to score the tying run in an important game on a sac fly.

That’s the big deal.


While many focused on rookie Melky Mesa failing to touch third in the bottom of the 14th (maybe Joe Girardi should have put him in a game before this important pinch-running role – Mesa had been on the Yankee bench for 10 games before getting in yesterday as a pinch runner in a huge spot), that mistake was erased when the Yankees won the game.

But everybody forgot about Cano’s terrible play (or lack thereof) on the ball in the seventh inning that allowed the A’s to tie the game and forced the Yankees to play 14 (rather than a probable nine) innings.  Again, you don’t know what would have happened if Cano had hustled after that ball and kept it in the infield, but you do know that the Yankees still would have had a 5-4 lead with a runner on second, not third, in a crucial game.


Well, that remains to be seen.  A generation ago, virtually everybody ran hard to first.  It was a given, a part of the game.  After all, how hard could it be to run hard to first out of the batter’s box three or four times a game.  It’s only 90 feet, right?

Flash forward to today, where players (including the ultra-talented Cano) routinely do not run hard to first.  It’s an epidemic and, while pointed out time and again, has routinely become part of the game.  When Derek Jeter is often praised because he “busts it” out of the box when he hits the ball, you know something is very wrong.  When any player is praised for what every player should routinely do, something is very wrong.

But we are already there, for worse (not better).  The question now becomes are we on the verge of equal laziness in the field?  The answer is maybe.  If Robinson Cano can half-heartedly go after a ground ball in the middle of a division/wild card race because he thinks Nick Swisher might catch it, it’s not a far leap to others doing the same thing.

We will have to wait and see, but that’s exactly how not running to first became an every day occurrence in major league baseball.

And the integrity of the game takes another hit.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Lounge on YouTube: Mini-Episode #191 – NFL Week 3 fantasy football

By Rick Morris
Here is the 191st mini-episode of THE FDH LOUNGE with THE FANTASYDRAFTHELP.COM INSIDER.  In this one, we preview the NFL Week 3 fantasy football landscape.