Why Granderson’s Injury May Be a Positive For the Yankees

It took less than an inning. Picking up right where the Yankees left off in last year’s ALDS, a broken forearm will sideline all-star outfielder Curtis Granderson until May. The knee-jerk reaction is “here we go again,” “that sucks,” and other one-liners emanating negativity and pessimism.

But nothing against Granderson, and I don’t wish injury upon anybody, but it wouldn’t bother me if he was out for the year.

Since the Yankees’ scrappy dynasty of the late 90’s, the Steinbrenner wallet has headed the forefront of the New York Yankees product – cashmere-quality athletes who, on paper, should give the Yankees a World Series every two or three years.

About 12 years have gone by since the subjective start of this philosophy and the trend has been anything but what the Evil Empire expected – while borderline unfair, one championship in 12 years isn’t acceptable in the Bronx.

Personally, I want to see young guns get a chance to showcase their skills for the team who’s scouts handpicked them. There’s something different about cheering for a Robinson Cano vs. Alex Rodriguez, Brett Gardner vs. Mark Teixeira.

I’m not hating on A-Rod nor Teixeira, but the majesty of, for instance,¬† the ’98 Yankees came partially due to the homegrown talent that together created the perfect jigsaw puzzle: Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, David Cone, Mariano Rivera.

As a die-hard Yankee fan it seems my team today is kind of…. artificial.

It’s why I don’t mind watching Cashman wiggle his way out of paying a cent in luxury tax. Give your homegrown talent a chance to shine. The big bully free agency strategy is nice in theory, but has not shown the results we’ve come to expect out of the Bronx Bombers.

Remember Tony Womack? In 2005 the Yankees signed the veteran second baseman to a deal, only to forfeit that position to a young Robinson Cano that May due to Womack’s inability to do anything.

I don’t expect a home run like this to come from Granderson’s strike of bad luck, but there are Jeremy Lins out there waiting for their time.

Take as much time as you need Curtis. We want you healthy… but hopefully more good will come out of this than bad, and I hope a 22-year old Joe Schmo will have the chance to cash in.

Fresh Rushing Game Just One Reason New York Giants Are ’13 Super Bowl Contenders

Once Dez Bryant’s knuckles were ruled out of bounds on this play October 28th, the New York Giants sat comfortably atop the NFC East at 6-2, 2.5 games ahead of the Eagles and Cowboys, primed for another playoff appearance. Coming off a Super Bowl championship, it was logical to feel confident the experienced Eli Manning could lead his team through a serious championship push for the second straight year.

Ultimately, it seemed the Giants grew complacent with their game and let their guard down to ultimately miss the playoffs entirely, an utter disappointment for a franchise and fan base expecting more.

But 2013 will be different for Eli & Co. The brightest light at the end of 2012’s depressive tunnel was a renaissance of New York’s running game, one with energy we haven’t seen since Tiki Barber’s pre-Eli days. Journeyman-turned puzzle piece Andre Brown showed fans his brute force capabilities and rookie David Wilson showed us the explosive step Ahmad Bradshaw never offered. Couple this with New York’s weaker schedule and the fresh pressure to avoid a second straight “losing” season, the New York Giants will contend for the Super Bowl in 2013.

An athletic neophyte, Wilson’s agility and 4.40 40-yard dash (video) offer a glimmer of hope Big Blue can represent a game-changing back comparable to a Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, or even Robert Griffin III (According to the New York Times, Wilson has run the 40 in 4.29 seconds). While a long shot, there’s finally enough quickness to evoke a glimmer of hope.

In the last five games of the regular season, Brown recorded five touchdowns on only 35 carries, many in Brandon Jacobs-like short yardage situations. While I couldn’t find the numbers, I don’t remember Brown rushing for a loss many times in those games.

If there’s chemistry, this duo has the potential to propel the Giants to the other end of the rushing spectrum. Both of their ’12 performances qualify for guaranteed rushes in ’13, but this “friendly” competition will add fuel to their respective fires. That extra drive should ultimately bring out the best in one, if not both of the Giants’ running backs.

In its best-case scenario, the Giants’ new-found rushing game will force defenses to allocate more attention on the ground, therefore leading to more open receivers and an even more successful passing game.

*How the Giants won last year’s Super Bowl with the league’s worst rushing numbers is a mystery I will never solve. And while given his fair share of kudos, I feel Eli’s 2011-12 accomplishment is still underrated given that statistic.*

The only other silver-lining of New York’s underachieving season is the motivation it offers for the upcoming campaign. Before this year’s Baltimore Ravens, no team since the 2006 Steelers won a Super Bowl the year after winning a playoff game. While winning is always the ultimate goal, I theorize an underachieving season finale is heavier motivation to win than the fire to repeat. Look at the 2012 Miami Heat.

But while arguments supporting New York’s new rushing game and theories of losing seasons are nice, they’re subjective. Plus, coming into 2012 Wilson and Brown combined for four career rushes. How will they tweak their game to counter defenses’ adjustments? Brown will enter 2013 off a broken fibula and Casper the Friendly Ghost could have blocked better than Wilson. But New York’s 2013 strength of schedule is the most tangible reason the Giants will at least make the playoffs. The scheduling committee gave the Super Bowl champion Giants games against all winners¬† of the ’11 NFC conferences – Packers, Saints, and 49ers. This year, New York will face a much weaker schedule, one that includes the dreadful AFC West. Take out the 13-3 Broncos and that conference boasted a 13-35 overall record this year (2012 standings).

With fresh assets at hand in 2013, a favorable schedule and a new-found motivation to elude the taste of failure, it will be a season Giants fans should look forward to. I correctly predicted the Giants would not make the playoffs in 2012, but am predicting a serious playoff representation in 2013.

Plus, the Giants have home-field advantage in this year’s Super Bowl whether they play or not. That cherry-on-top motivation may put them over the hump should they hit their stride come December.

Sporcle of the Week: MLB Ballparks

Amongst the cold and depressing month we call February hides the slippery slope to happiness – Pitchers and Catchers!

With baseball just around the corner I retook one of my favorite Sporcles of all-time: Name every ballpark in Major League Baseball. I’m very sloppy and only was able to recall 21 of the 30 but I’ll call it a success.

Who’s ready for baseball!?!?

Real Snow – Watch These Snowboarders Tear Up Their Neighborhood

My skateboarding phase took me from around fourth grade through seventh, but I never lost the excitement for watching extreme sports. While I won’t watch ESPN’s X Games religiously, I certainly make an effort to check out some of the action.

But personally, my most captivating winter “event” is the Real Snow competition. For snowboarders not fortunate enough to live near mountains, these guys videotape themselves making do with whatever street-style is available: spins down library stairs, back flips over swimming pools, plus more.

Real SnowThe reason it’s tough to consider this an X Games event is because of the variation in venue. As is the purpose of the competition, street snowboarders around the world use only what’s in their reach to showcase their skills. In turn, the only way to “apply” for a gold medal is to videotape your show, make the cut, then get voted in by the fans.

Right now it’s down to two. Using only a wound up cord to generate speed, watch Eero Ettala and Frank April tear up the neighborhood with their superior concoction of guts and creativity. To vote, click here.

EERO ETTALA

FRANK APRIL

It’s difficult to excel at extreme sports because of the “been there, done that” factor. It’s like the NBA dunk contest – show me something I haven’t seen. But where’s the glass ceiling? How many spins can Shaun White throw down in big air?

I side in favor of the Real Snow competition because it’s untapped and fresh. Infinite courses in addition to the category’s creativity factor are healthy complements to the unquestioned skill these maniacs possess. Who doesn’t want to launch off the roof of their high school cafeteria?

Here’s me in Vermont last year. I think I’m on the cusp on greatness.


(This whole post I tried to come up with an “ice water in their veins, but they already perform on snow” joke, but nothing seemed unforced. I’ll chalk it down as a fail and try better next time)

Sporcle of the Week: Top 5 NBA Scorers by Draft

I’m a sucker for 90s basketball, and this Sporcle delivers. Since 1992 and until 2011, name the top five NBA scorers from their respective draft class.

Make sure you have 15 minutes to kill. I got 55 of 105 but know I could’ve gotten more. One of those “Oh c’mon I knew that” quizzes.

Happy Sporcling!

SPORCLE OF THE WEEK: TOP 5 SCORERS BY DRAFT CLASS

Lance Armstrong, Choosing Oprah Shows Weakness

By now you have probably heard that Lance Armstrong, probably the most popular cyclist of all time, has decided to come clean about his doping – that all seven of his Tour-de-France titles were won under circumstances not disclosed at his time of victory.

I’m glad Armstrong came clean. By doing so it reveals the seven-time champion could no longer support the weight of the monkey-turned-ape that has weighed on his shoulders since that first injection. It gives me hope he will use this to better himself as a person.

Earlier today my sister and I discussed his legacy. I support anyone who has raised over half-a-billion dollars for cancer research, and he now seems prepared to start a new chapter. Everyone deserves a second chance.

My sister took it from another angle: Why Oprah?

Why the loving, caring, everything’s-gonna-be-okay philanthropist who has limited connection to the sports world? Does Armstrong think he can soften the blow of an image crumble by coming clean to someone known to emphasize the good more than bad?

I had to agree.

To do what Armstrong has done — embarrass an entire sport for a full decade — I think you owe us an interview with Barbara Walters, Stephen A. Smith, Katie Couric, or someone of equal objectivity.

Say what you want about Alex Rodriguez, but he handled this situation better than anyone has so far: admit what you did as soon as you’re accused, accept an interview by a figure in the category above (Peter Gammons in this case), and try to move on.

While I have no doubt Oprah hit all the major points and conducted a professional, emotional, informational interview, I can’t help but think how it would be different if the interviewer was of a different breed. It’s tough to envision Ms. Winfrey unleashing caged anger on someone who single-handedly cheated an entire sport for so long. While I wouldn’t want to see him interviewed by a Tour-de-France beat writer, it would’ve been nice to see him answer the questions of someone more tied to the sports world.

Does his choice of Oprah show he’s not mature enough to accept the beat down he deserves? Or am I over thinking it? For someone who has put on an act of this magnitude for this long, I think we have every right to micromanage.

But who knows? Maybe for the first time we’ll see the cycling fan side of Oprah. I heard every night she stays up late and watches cycling coverage on The Ocho.

Hey Peter Le Fleur, don’t quit on your team. Just do what I did and everything will be okay.

If healthy, RGIII will be the best quarterback in the league by 2015

It started with Michael Vick. A revolutionary quarterback who forced defenses to sacrifice a defender for a spy. A quarterback who can turn a broken play into a 20 yard run.

Sounds enticing, but Vick never was a great quarterback, just one that makes magic with his feet. Vick didn’t throw to a 60% completion percentage until his eighth year in the league and probably won’t win a Super Bowl. And we all know about his turnover rate.

But imagine Peyton Manning with Vick’s legs. Picture Aaron Rodgers en route to a game-winning 78-yard touchdown run after his third and fourth options were covered.

In his rookie season, the Washington Redskins’ Robert Griffin III averaged fewer interceptions per pass than every other starting quarterback (five int. in 258 attempts; 1.3%) and threw to a 65.6% completion rate. For their careers, Manning sits at 65.2% and Rodgers at 65.7%.

Griffin’s numbers
Vick’s numbers
Peyton’s numbers
Rodgers’ numbers

In his seven full seasons as a starter, Vick eclipsed RGIII’s 2012 total of 3200 passing yards only once (2011) and only twice rushed for more yards than Griffin’s 2012 tally of 815.

But it was Griffin’s 4.41 dash in the ’12 combine that foreshadowed his dazzling ground work during the regular season. Like Vick, Griffin can break out for 13 fantasy points on one play (below). Unlike Vick, it seems Griffin can protect the football and throw accurately.

If Griffin can somehow extract enough passing potential to work up to Manning or Rodgers’ level, then his edge in the footrace department would put him at a separate level of any quarterback in NFL history.

Before we get gung-ho, we must acknowledge health when evaluating RGIII’s style of play. If he wants to remain in the league, he needs to become a pass-first quarterback who can dive into the arsenal if needed, not the other way around.

Picture this scenario – it happened week 13 against the New York Giants.

Redskins up a point with four minutes to go in the fourth quarter. The Redskins have the ball and the Giants have two timeouts.

In this situation most offenses run the ball to eat up clock. The defense knows, so late-game situations such as these usually result in a three-and-out and a punt with two minutes or so left.

But with RGIII you don’t hand the ball off, you run the option. The defense now has to worry about a separate threat with a proportion of attention on each. What is usually a gimme three-and-out is now a mind game between Griffin and the defense.

In that game, the Giants couldn’t stop the combination of Griffin and rookie running back Alfred Morris, the Redskins ran out the clock, and took a must-win away from the defending Super Bowl Champions.

Griffin’s unique late-game threat will lead to more wins such as these.

Take this likeable fella and evaluate his numbers. In four years compare his passing numbers the elite ones and his running numbers to Vick’s. If he keeps pace with those guys like he did this season, you could be watching the greatest quarterback of all time.

But let’s get that knee back in order first.