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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Must See Sports – First Weekend of September 2011

The beginning of football season is finally upon us, first college, then the NFL. The September stretch of the Major League Baseball season is here. This is a great time of year to be a sports fan!

Thursday, September 1

NFL Preseason Football

Indianapolis Colts at Cincinnati Bengals

There are a couple of items of interest in this game, in spite of it being the final preseason game in which starters see very little action. I personally, am curious to see if Colts quarterback Kerry Collins plays. If he does, I want to see how well he fits into the Colts’ not-so-simple offensive scheme. It is not out of the realm of possibility for this to be a preview of what we may see from the Colts in the passing game in week 1 of the regular season’ as unthinkable as that once seemed.

I am also interested in seeing Bengals rookie quarterback Andy Dalton and rookie wide receiver A.J. Green, should they get significant playing time. Dalton needs all of the practice reps he can get, as would any rookie. It will also be the last time we see Dalton before the training wheels come off.

Panthers rookie QBs Cam Newton (left) and Dalton (right): the pace car goes away after tonight! 1

Friday, September 2


Chicago White Sox at Detroit Tigers
John Danks (6-9, 3.63 ERA) – White Sox vs Justin Verlander (20-5, 2.38 ERA)

The Tigers continue to maintain a cushion of five games or greater over the White Sox and Cleveland Indians in the American League Central. Yet they still have failed to deliver a knockout blow to either of their division rivals. The White Sox appear to finally be putting together a hot streak, having won five of their last six games. Unfortunately, it could be too little, too late, with only one month remaining in the season.

The “Good Guys” task gets no easier, facing the Tigers’ 20 game winner, virtual American League Cy Young shoe-in, and AL MVP candidate, Justin Verlander. White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn (.163, 11 HR 40 RBI) has yet to rise to any occasion, going hitless in his last four games (0 for 12).

Advantages: Game – Tigers, Series – White Sox               

Ozzie Guillen Adam Dunn #32 of the Chicago White Sox is welcomed by manager Ozzie Guillen #13 after scoring a run in the 7th inning against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on July 1, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The White Sox defeated the Cubs 6-4.
I hope Dunn likes sitting next to White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, because Guillen dropped a not-so-subtle hint that Dunn may see more of the pine as long as the White Sox have a chance in the AL Central race. 2

Saturday, September 3

NCAA Football

Oregon Ducks (3) vs LSU Tigers (4) from Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, Texas

This is a very early matchup of two teams with national championship aspirations. Much of the focus on the LSU football program, in the past two weeks, has been on the bar fight that resulted in the arrest and suspension of quarterback Jordan Jefferson. Fisticuffs aside, LSU is still worth media attention. The Tigers have most of their starters returning to a smothering defense and a stable of running backs sure to wear down any front seven in college football.

The Oregon Ducks start the 2011 season seeking to earn another shot in the National Championship game. Running back LaMichael James, a Heisman Trophy candidate in 2010, will provide a ground attack to an offense loaded with speed in its passing game. Still, in a Pac 12 vs SEC matchup, especially an SEC matchup involving my Alma mater…this pick is a no brainer.

Advantage: LSU

I am so sure that Jordan Jefferson arrived at East Baton Rouge Parish prison for booking, took his suit off, put on his jersey, stepped into a jail cell, smiled, and posted $5,000 bond about 10 minutes later. Only on the Internet.... 3
Sunday, September 4


Texas Rangers at Boston Red Sox
Matt Harrison (10-9, 3.54 ERA) - Rangers vs John Lackey (12-10, 5.94 ERA) – Red Sox

The Rangers, in spite of holding the lead in the American League West for most of the year, have been unable to pull away and slam the door on the second place Los Angeles Angels. The Angels clawed their way back into the race. Then, when the Angels went cold, the Rangers went cold. When the Rangers got hot, so did the Angels. L.A. is just 3.5 games back and within striking distance. At the moment, the Rangers are meandering, only winning 4 of their last 9 games.

Adding more to the unpredictability is Red Sox pitcher John Lackey. On paper, he has not had a good year, yet he has won twice as many decisions as he has lost since June, including 7 of his last 9 decisions. This is in large part due to MVP candidate Adrian Gonzalez (.341, 23 HR, 103 RBI) and David “Big Papi” Ortiz (.313, 28 HR, 88 RBI) smashing the ball everywhere. Ortiz is quietly riding a 14 game hitting streak and has an on base plus slugging percentage of 1.330 in the month of August.

The Red Sox are simply playing too well right now and I like them in this matchup.

Advantages: Game – Red Sox, Series – Red Sox

Monday, September 5


Atlanta Braves at Philadelphia Phillies
Derek Lowe (9-12, 4.52) – Braves vs Cliff Lee (15-7, 2.59 ERA) – Phillies

In spite of winning 8 of their last 11 games, the Braves’ chances of catching the Phillies in the NL East race are “slim to none”. “Slim” will leave the building is the Braves don’t win this three game series. Unfortunately for the Braves, the Phillies, currently working on a four game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds, have played as consistently and steadily as any team in the majors. They will be without shortstop Jimmy Rollins (.268, 14 HR, 58 RBI) for this game, but that will likely be little more than a speed bump for the Phills.

Advantages: Game – Phillies, Series – Phillies

Braves fans have a lot to worry about unless Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel decides to replace Cliff Lee with the Phanatic. 4

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