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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Must See Sports - Second Weekend of August 2013

Last week's advantage/disadvantage record, excluding series: 2-1
Last week's advantage/disadvantage record in series: 1-1-1
2013 Advantage/Disadvantage Record, excluding series: 31-29 
2013 Advantage/Disadvantage Record (series only): 5-5-4

I won't pull any punches. It's back to FOOTBALL!!!

Thursday, August 8

NFL Preseason Football

Cincinnati Bengals at Atlanta Falcons

This could be a preview of the Super Bowl, especially on the NFC side. I don't know how much we should expect to see of Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton or Falcons Pro Bowler Matt Ryan. Those who are fans of HBO's Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Cincinnati Bengals may be particularly intrigued by this ESPN nationally televised game.

Denver Broncos at San Francisco 49ers

This is a more likely Super Bowl preview via preseason. Again, I would not expect to see future Hall of Fame Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning for more than a quarter. However, the world hasn't gotten to see him since last January, so we, the fans, will have to take what we can get.

More intriguing will be the 2013 live-action debut of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, in his first full year as a starting quarterback. The 49ers came just a few yards away from winning the Super Bowl last season. This year, they are the hunted, not the hunters.

He's on a path to having more chances in the future. 1

Friday, August 9

New England Patriots at Philadelphia Eagles

Welcome to the NFL preseason's Circus Bowl. The Patriots and Eagles have had more distracting headlines that any team expects to endure in the offseason. The Patriots have had very little go right. Tom Brady took a paycut to free up cap space, presumably with the understanding that the Patriots would open the safe to resign his #1 receiver, Wes Welker.

Certainly this high priority would be more urgent in light of Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski's surgery on his arm which will likely cause him to miss the start of the regular season, right? The Patriots lowballed Welker and he signed with the Broncos to play with Peyton Manning for less money than the Pats' final offer to Welker. Today, Welker told the press that Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick was a major reason that he left New England.

Belichick must be a scary mofo if his players wait for six months and 1,600 miles of separation before throwing him under the bus. 4
But wait...there's MORE! Next, the Patriots signed quarterback Tim Tebow to the roster as a backup to Brady and second string QB Ryan Mallett. If this were the Madden 25 video game, this would not be a bad move. Tebow is a superb athlete who can contribute in other roles such as special teams and situational offensive situations at positions other than quarterback.

Notwithstanding the reality that Brady could get hurt and Tebow is as good of a 3rd stringer as there is available, the Patriots machine runs on players keeping a low profile and not drawing unnecessary media attention. It's the Patriot Way! With Tebow in the locker room, I don't see how that lasts for 16 weeks in spite of Belichick's clutching, gripping claw of control on his players with the media.

Welker...Tebow...hey, the Patriots prospered with Randy Moss on the roster and had a headline-free year from Chad Ochocinco in 2011. Minor distractions, right? Then along comes Aaron Hernandez's arrest on charges of first degree murder in the shooting death of 27-year-old semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd. The unthinkable happened: the Patriots became an absolute circus.

The Eagles? Depending on your point of view, they have it worse than the Pats or better than New England. Wide receiver Riley Cooper was videoed using a racial slur at a black security guard at a Kenny Chesney concert earlier this summer. In a league with 70% black players, I need not explain how that powder keg could explode. Fortunately, quarterback Mike Vick, who is black, proactively defended Cooper and helped shield Cooper and the team from some of the media bullets. Cooper issued as contrite an apology as one could offer, given the situation. Time will have to take care of the rest.

Compounding matters, #1 wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and linebacker Jason Phillips tore their anterior cruciate ligaments. Both players will miss the entire 2013 season with their knee injuries.

This isn't an Oklahoma drill for Aaron Hernandez.
Saturday, August 10

New York Giants at Pittsburgh Steelers

Two Super Bowl winning franchises of the last five years line up. As with every preseason opener, don't expect to see too much of the quarterbacks - Eli Manning of the Giants and Ben Roethlisberger of the Steelers. Expect to see players on two franchises that perennially contend for the Super Bowl that missed the playoffs in 2012 slug it out. While most of the players on the field will be reserves, their desire to prove they belong on their respective teams should offer ample football entertainment while we count down to the start of the regular season.

Sunday, August 11

Tampa Bay Rays at Los Angeles Dodgers
Jeremy Hellickson (10-5, 4.77 ERA) - Rays vs Clayton Kershaw (10-7, 1.91 ERA, 166 Ks) - Dodgers

If you like baseball and you have nothing else to do then you can't miss this matchup. The hottest team in the American League travels to face the hottest team in the National League and its ace pitcher. The Dodgers are on the cusp of running away with the N.L. West while the Rays are set to overtake the Boston Red Sox in the A.L. East any day now.

While both teams are on a tear, the Rays' starting pitcher is not, having been rocked and losing in his last two starts. Kershaw is all but impossible to bet against. Oh, by the way, right fielder Yasiel Puig (.372, 11 HR, 25 RBI, 1.024 OPS), who had cooled off after the All-Star Break, has reached base in his last 10 consecutive games.

Advantages: Game - Dodgers, Series - Dodgers 

If you see this bat flip, you're pitch got knocked the f___ out of the yard! 2
Wednesday, August 14

Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals
Geritt Cole (5-5, 3.69 ERA) - Pirates  vs Jake Westbrook (7-7, 4.11 ERA) - Cardinals

Both if these teams should be playing in October. The question is: who will go as the N.L. Central champion? There is no guarantee that Westbrook will make the start as he has been torpedoed in each of his last three starts. In addition, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina (.330, 8 HR, 54 RBI) is on the 15 day disabled list with a knee injury. While the Cardinals have been a force at home, the Pirates have been hotter of late and have fewer housekeeping issues.

Advantages: Game - Pirates, Series - Cardinals

Pirates CF Andrew McCutchen (left) and his girlfriend Maria Hanslovan (middle). Life is good for in Pittsburgh clubhouse right now. 3
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