Another day at the Winter Meetings, and another blockbuster deal. Baseball fans have to be loving the action taking place off the field. The Red Sox/White Sox swap featuring Chris Sale will end up being the headliner of the week. But there was nothing under the radar about the Wednesday trade between the Nationals and those very busy White Sox.
The White Sox have transformed their organization in the space of roughly 24 hours with these two big deals. The farm system, which was not good at all, is suddenly the picture of good health. They're pretty likely to be close to awful in 2017, but the future is looking much brighter as this concerted effort to rebuild the right way takes place.
The Wednesday trade saw the Chisox send outfielder Adam Eaton to the Nationals in return for three pitching prospects. Lucas Giolito is considered the prize catch among that trio, but Reynaldo Lopez is intriguing and Dane Dunning was the 29th overall selection in the most recent draft.
Just in case you didn't know it already, now you definitely know why he's called "Dealer Dave". Red Sox head honcho Dave Dombrowski has a reputation for being more than willing to go all-in when he thinks the situation is right. Dombrowski certainly went that route on Tuesday in swinging a monster deal with the White Sox.
Boston parted with four prospects, including two ultra-high ceiling guys in Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech. In return the Red Sox obtained the services of Chris Sale, who is one off the five best pitchers in the game.
Boston is now the favorite to win the American League pennant in 2017, and the Red Sox are the second lowest priced World Series option behind only the reigning kingpin Cubs. That starting rotation is suddenly about as daunting as it gets, with Sale joining Rick Porcello, David Price and at least for the time being, Drew Pomeranz, Eduardo Rodriguez and maybe even Clay Buchholz. I'm pretty sure there's going to be another deal where one of those ...
The NBA announced on Monday that the league would be starting the regular season 7-10 days earlier in the future. The reason given was that this would allow for more rest between games, and fewer back to back, two games in two night situations.
Perhaps the league is making this decision based on some actual numbers which are pretty compelling. I did a little research to see what, if any, long term records existed to either validate or negate the thought that there's a definite disadvantage involved for teams having to play without rest.
Sure enough, there appears to be some correlation here. Going back to 2003, only five NBA teams have managed overall winning records when forced to play a second straight game with no days off.
To be honest, that really surprised me. I imagined the breakdown would be a little more than half the league sporting sub-.500 ledgers in this scenario. But the fact that a mere five franchises were on the plus side of the breakeven mark certainly ...
Feel free to call me out of touch with reality. Here I was, thinking that the hot Monday sports topic would be the college football playoff controversy. I was wrong.
Evidently that's too hard core sports in 2016. There's clearly way more to chew on and discuss with Tiegate. That's the latest Cam Newton story. The Panthers quarterback had to sit out the first play of the Sunday night debacle against the Seahawks. He evidently didn't wear a tie on the team flight to Seattle, and head coach Ron Rivera basically suspended him for the first play of the game.
I guess this is a story, and I suppose I have an opinion on what took place, as I imagine almost everyone else does as well. But for this to be by far the most trending sports topic on Twitter? That's straight out of the making a mountain out a molehill playbook.
I'll stick with the playoff talk, because to me it's far more substantive and interesting. First of all, I'll mention that my pre-season picks to make the playoffs, ...
Saturday free plays split with Temple winning easily in football and Mercer coming short in basketball. My overall day is not complete as I'm writing this, but it's going to be a red ink day in all likelihood. They goal is to get back on track today. I'll have a big card in the NFL with five plays, plus two in college basketball. For info on my December Special, which includes a very strong guarantee, just shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for all the pertinent infomation.
Here's my Sunday free play, and this one is in the NFL.
BILLS at RAIDERS
Take: BILLS +3
The general consensus among those who put their faith in analytics is that the Oakland Raiders are a bit on the overrated side. True enough, the stats aren't all that impressive for this football team. On the flip side, the Raiders keep winning games, and they've got a great attitude that reflects the bold coaching philosophy of Jack Del Rio. Barring a late collapse, it's a slam dunk that Del Rio will be garnering a ...
The usual quick late Friday/early Saturday blog. This will continue throughout the college basketball season as there's simply no time to editorialize on anything with the time needed to research games I've got potential interest in on these massive Saturday slates.
Also, note that while I've generally put my weekly NFL free play in the Saturday columns, I'll be moving those to Sundays (available late Saturday evening) so that I can get a college basketball Saturday comp game published here.
Let's get to it!
839 MERCER at 840 GEORGE MASON
Take: MERCER +3
First, a little on the scheduling dynamics. There's no way to be sure a team is ever going to come out a little flat, as it's really just a judgement call. But there is some of that opinion involved here, which I'll explain later.
I like looking for value dogs based on some key numbers that I weigh fairly heavily when doing matchup analysis. Those numbers favor Mercer here.
I also like it when I can grab points ...
Let's be clear, the non-call did not cost the Minnesota Vikings a win against the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night.
Cowboys defensive tackle Cedric Thornton clearly fouled Vikings QB Sam Bradford on Minnesota's attempted two-point conversion that could have forced overtime. Even if the call gets made, there's no guarantee the Vikings are able to get the deuce. Even if they do succeed on what should have been another opportunity, there's no guarantee Minnesota wins in overtime.
But, and this falls into the yet again category, the stripes got it wrong. Referee Carl Cheffers and his crew failed to make a critical call that might well have impacted which team won and which team lost.
This was fixable. There has to be something in place to correct clearly incorrect judgement calls, not just errors on fumbles or whether a player scored a touchdown. Even the CFL has better rules than the NFL when it comes to stuff like this.
On a day when Major League Baseball got it right by ...
This will be the final installment of the Weekly Wise Guy Report for the college football season. Information is garnered from various sources both in Nevada and from offshore stores, as well as stateside underground shops.
308 West Virginia is a sharp side and the virtually unanimous consensus is that the price on the Mountaineers is going to continue to rise.
314 Georgia Southern has attracted some smart money this week with the Eagles in the home dog role against Troy.
317 Oklahoma State is getting some pro play as a dog at Oklahoma, and the public has been playing the Cowboys as well.
324 Western Kentucky is the sharp money choice in the CUSA title game matchup against Louisiana Tech.
328 Alabama continues to generate action even as the line keep rising in the Tide's SEC title game against Florida.
329 San Diego State is getting a bit more of the pro dough at Wyoming, although it's definitely not a landslide.
333 Penn State is getting more of the sharp cash in ...
As expected, Mark Helfrich is out as the Oregon head football coach. That means it's time to start sifting through the emerging candidates for what is at the very least a good job, and perhaps a great one. I've seen several names mentioned, so I'll run through a handful and offer my two cents.
Dana Holgorsen: I can see this being a very good mutual fit. Holgorsen is a fit for Oregon in terms of the style of football he plays. Holgorsen has also gone about as far as he can go at West Virginia. No knock on that program, but the infrastructure just isn't there to expect the Mountaineers to compete with Oklahoma and Texas from a dollars and facilities standpoint. I make Holgorsen a very strong possibility to go after this job.
Chris Peterson: He already has a terrific gig at Washington, but those monster Oregon dollars could be tempting. I don't see him leaving Seattle, but ya never know.
Bryan Harsin: The Boise State head coach is apparently a major contender. Harsin fits on a ...
Blame it on the media.
It doesn't seem to matter what the issue is, it's easy and convenient to simply assign fault to the media and let it go at that. This doesn't apply to just news, it happens on a regular basis in sports as well.
Apparently there's someone currently unidentified in the upper management of the Los Angeles Rams who isn't happy with one particular media member. In this case, the media individual is not just some beat reporter who might be rubbing people the wrong way.
Eric Dickerson, who is probably the most popular ex-Rams player alive, hosts a radio show in LA. Dickerson has been a huge supporter of the team as it made the move back to the west coast, has been frustrated with some aspects of the team's on-field performance and he hasn't pulled many punches.
This apparently created a bit of a firestorm, as Dickerson revealed on his show that he was called by someone in what he termed "upper management" who reportedly told him he was no longer welcome on ...
The college football playoff picture is clearing up. Sort of.
As of now, the consensus is that the four qualifiers are Alabama, Clemson, Washington and Ohio State. Alabama is in, regardless of what happens against Florida this weekend. Clemson is a lock if they take care of business against Virginia Tech. Washington is a cinch as long as they get past Colorado.
And then there's Ohio State, which is now apparently good to go after the controversial double OT win over Michigan. The Buckeyes don't have to go through the rigors of a conference championship game because they didn't make it to the conference championship game. That's the problem for me.
I know I've already written this, but I'm going to repeat what my stance remains as far as this goes. If you're asking me whether Ohio State is one of the four best teams in college football, the answer is still yes. That's in spite of the fact that the Buckeyes haven't exactly blown away the opposition down the stretch. They had ...
It's now official. Charlie Strong is out at Texas, Tom Herman is in with the Longhorns, and LSU has decided Ed Orgeron is their man after supposedly having a handshake agreement with Herman.
If you're thinking the Texas and LSU jobs being filled signals a fast finish to the high end coaching carousel, forget about it. I'm expecting two very big jobs to come open, and at least a few others at only a slightly lesser caliber.
The big gig that I suspect is going to open up is at Notre Dame. Kelly said yesterday that he wants to be back at South Bend. Fighting Irish athletic director Jack Swarbrick has repeatedly stated that Kelly's job is safe.
I'm not so sure. Not only did Notre Dame just suffer through an absolutely terrible football season, the program has also had some embarrassing off the field issues, and the fan base is unhappy. I think it all depends on how many of those dissatisfied fans are big time boosters. That always matters.
Regardless, I think Notre Dame ...