Party like its 1985 for the Kansas City Royals

The last time the Kansas City Royals were in the MLB playoffs, a kid traveled back in time in a souped up DeLorean. Two prize fighters, one from the USA and one from The Soviet Union, were putting the "Cold War" on full display in a more dramatic setting. The Cosbys were on top of the TV World & global awareness started on MTV with "We Are the World."

Last night, 29 years later, the Kansas City Royals ended their long playoff drought with a huge 9-8 victory over the Oakland A's. When that last hit was made by catcher Salvador Perez, who had previously missed 2 key opportunities to win, the celebration and emotions from the Royals blue faithful poured out like the waters of Niagara Falls. The camera even caught former Royals player and hall of famer George Brett in the skybox and his look was one of relief and amazement.

The game was not without drama though. A's Brandon Moss had collected his second home run of the game in the op of the 6th inning which had given the A's a 7-3 lead. For some all seemed lost, but for those on the field wearing blue and to those blue Royals fans, never say never.

Not a home run was hit but 3 runs were scored in the 8th inning. Outfielder Lorenzo Cain brought in a run scored by shortstop Alcides Escobar, who led of the inning with a single and then stole second base. After Cain stole second and first baseman Eric Hosmer singled off A's pitcher Jon Lester (traded over from Boston Red Sox), the A's went to their bullpen and called Luke Gregerson. It was then DH Billy Butler's turn and he came up big with a clutch single bringing in Cain from 3rd. Manager Ned Yost then figured it was time for some "small ball" so he pinch ran for Butler, putting in Terrance Gore. That substitution looked to be working as Gore stole second base. With men on second and third, Gregerson was beginning to show signs of "forcing his pitches" as he threw a wild pitch, scoring Hosmer and allowing Gore to get to third base. ALL of this happening with just one out in the inning. While Outfielder Alex Gordon managed to draw a walk, Perez struck out swinging and Royals second baseman Omar Infante also left Gordon on second with a strikeout. So the ninth would be the inning to either win, lose or at least tie giving the Royals more baseball life.

After a shaky ninth inning from Royals closer Greg Holland, it was do or die time for the Royals. Facing the A's closer Sean Doolittle, Ned Yost went to his bench yet again. He sat put in Josh Willingham for third baseman Mike Moustakas and Willingham delivered with a clutch single. The electricity in Kauffman Stadium was so intense it could have power a small town for over a year. Yost was on once again as he sent in another pinch runner, Jarrod Dyson, the fastest Royal of them all to run for for Willingham. After getting to second on a sacrifice by Escobar, Dyson stole third off Doolittle. The stage was set for what was the biggest hit of the Royals life and right fielder Norichika Aoki was the bat to do it. With one out in the ninth, Aoki drove the ball deep into right field and scored Dyson on a sacrifice fly to tie the game for the Royals, giving the fans some free baseball with extra innings.

The 10th and 11th innings became a pitching duel with no runs scored. The surprising thing was the quick maturing of a young Royals pitcher, Brandon Finnegan, who before tonight, had only pitched seven innings in his entire career. To be put out there in one of the most important games in Royal's history, was a huge burden and this Finnegan kid embraced the challenged and made his mark striking out three A's with his 2.1 innings pitched.

Top of the 12th inning came what was thought to be the nail in the coffin for the Royals when pinch hitter Alberto Callaspo, who had struggled for most of the season, came up big for the A's with a hit and RBI that scored Josh Reddick from third, the Royals went to the well once more to try to find that Royals rally magic. The blast off the bat of Hosmer, that was misplayed by miscommunication by the A's outfielders turned into a much needed one-out triple. Hosmer then scored on a HIGH chopper single by pinch hitter Christian Colon (pinch hitting for Gore). Colon a speedster stole second base with relative ease after Gordon fouled out to third. The stage of redemption was set for Perez and he did NOT disappoint as he hit that ball down the third base line just getting past the glove of A's third baseman Josh Donaldson for the game winning hit. Just under 5 hours later, the Kansas City Royals slayed their 29-year playoff drought demons with a victory and a trip to the AL Divisional Round where the heavily favored Los Angeles Angels await them.

The Oakland A's and their owner Billy Beane were known for one special thing, "Moneyball." For the most part, moneyball is to create a team of talent not based on names but on pure talent and farm systems (for the most part). Last night, the Kansas City Royals beat the Oakland Athletics at their OWN game, moneyball and small ball. The Royals seven steals tied the playoff record for most in a game.

The Angels vs Royals is the modern day "David vs Goliath" and while stories are just stories, we know how this story ended for Goliath and after last night's comeback win by the Royals, let's be sure to not count them out by any means. Sports is about emotion and riding those emotions through the playoffs and the Royals have ALL the emotion which means they have ALL the mojo on their side. No one gave Rocky Balboa a chance vs Ivan Drago and Rocky won an entire nation over along with his victory over Drago. Royal Blue is such a lovely color and the Royals baseball team is a lovely story to follow this postseason for the non-conventional fan.
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Blogger Tricks

The Bewildered Bills

Some fan bases have it bad.  There is just no end in sight to the despair and the heartbreak.  At times there is a glimmer of hope, but that glimmer is so brief at times they wish they never experienced it.
Since 2000, the Bills fan-base has experienced three seasons of being at least a .500 team.  In that time they’ve had 7 head coaches and 8 starting quarterbacks.  One of those quarterbacks was J.P. Losman, who still lurks in the nightmares of Bills fans everywhere.  In 2013 the Bills hired Doug Marrone, who had coached football at Syracuse.  Marrone was 25-25 in the four seasons he coached Syracuse.  Keep in mind, Syracuse played in the Big East Conference, which was pretty much the “junior varsity” of BCS conferences.
The Bills continued with the “head scratching” moves in 2013 by blindsiding everyone in the draft.  With the 16th overall pick, they selected EJ Manuel out of Florida State.  Even the most dedicated Florida State fans were surprised that a guy who finished his college career with 47 touchdowns and 28 interceptions would be trusted as a “future franchise” quarterback for anyteam.  Considering Florida State won the National Championship the very next season with pretty much the same team and a red-shirt freshman at quarterback – one can understand the skepticism.
The Bills haven’t done everything wrong though. In 2011 they drafted a stud defensive tackle in Marcell Dareus.   They surprised everyone in 2012 when they were able to sign free agent defensive end Mario Williams who many thought was going to Chicago or New York.  Even this year they made two big splashes in the draft trading up for play-maker wide receiver Sammy Watkins, using a second round pick on right tackle Cyrus Kouandjio and signing free agent line backers Keith Rivers and Brandon Spikes.  Give the Bills this – they are trying.  Even with the trying, the latest news of Bills head coach Doug Marrone benching second year quarterback EJ Manuel for veteran Kyle Orton must be disheartening for some close to Buffalo.
The Bills are 2-2.  They were a seven point underdog visiting Chicago and won, then they crushed division rival Miami 29-10 in Buffalo’s home opener.  The next week was a loss to a San Diego Chargers team that is looking like one of the best teams in the league right now, with Philip Rivers who might be playing like the best quarterback in the league, currently; and last week they loss by six points to the Houston Texans.  Remember how Houston got those six points – two 50+ yard fields goals by Randy Bullock. Of course, there was the pick-6 by JJ Watt which was obviously thrown by EJ Manuel – but let’s think about this one.  Manuel is still young, will still make mistakes and JJ Watt has made some of the NFL’s “elite” quarterbacks, running backs and offensive linemen look flat out “silly,” throughout his career.
So what exactly has Manuel done wrong to get benched?  Let’s take a look at his stat line:
209.5 yards per game / five touchdowns / three interceptions / 6.4 yards per pass / and a completion percentage of 58%.
Matthew Stafford in Detroit has five touchdowns and three interceptions as well, but I doubt second string quarterback Dan Orlovsky is in heavy consideration to be the Lions’ starter. . .
So if they’re benching Manuel for Orton, Orton has to have a resume that makes this an easy decision, right? Right!?  Nope. Actually Orton’s career averages, which date back to his days in 2005 to 2013 are almost the same as Manuel’s:
200.3 yards per game / 6.6 yards per pass / and a completion percentage of 58.5%.  
Let’s also not forget that Kyle Orton was benched in Chicago in favor of Rex Grossman, who has gone down in history as being probably the worst starting quarterback to have ever played in a Super Bowl; and then while in Denver, Orton was benched for Tim Tebow.  Yes, that Tim Tebow.
So why the move, Marrone?  Why give up on EJ Manuel, who was supposed to be the future face of this franchise, for a guy who was considering retirement just this off-season? This Bills fan-base has enough to worry about after the passing of their legendary owner Ralph Wilson.  The truest Bills fans have thrown ever lasting support to their hero, Jim Kelly in recent months as he battled cancer.  All they want is a reason to feel optimistic.  Benching last year’s first round pick for a guy well passed his prime who never was anything but average – baffles the mind.
If the Jets can stick with and make up excuses for Geno Smith, their is NO reason the Bills can’t do the same for EJ Manuel.
G.W. Gras
twitter @GeeSteelio

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Clayton Kershaw, Greatest of All Time?

As wild card play-in games begin to day, the individual awards for MLB begin to be tallied. While the race for AL MVP and Cy Young are tight, there is no question in the NL for either. Most experts agree that Clayton Kershaw in the unanimous choice NOT JUST for the NL Cy Young Award BUT ALSO for NL MVP honors as well. His 21-3 record (BEST in the league), led the league in ERA (1.77) with 6 complete games, 239 strikeouts and his WHIP is a ridiculous (0.857). Not easy for a lefty but since his arrival in 2006, these performances have been a constant, which brings up the early question, "Is Clayton Kershaw the GREATEST pitcher ever?" Lets discuss this.

The 1st thing that is an obvious standout on Kershaw's stat line is his postseason and how poor it has been to date. His 1-3 record in the postseason is bad enough. Add in the 4.23 ERA that he carries during the post season and you have an instant debate. To truly be considered on of the greats, post seasons count, just ask the NFL's Peyton Manning.

When compared to former Dodger's legend, Sandy Koufax, while the numbers may be a little "skewed" because of the era he played in. If you put the two in a vacuum, it may be hard to tell them apart, to judge based on just regular seasons. Let's remember that Koufax had no relief in games, always batted for himself and there were less opponents to face. Kershaw's numbers are relatively equal to Koufax and the dominance is just as such. Koufax over the last 4 years of his career averaged 298.05 innings pitched per year. Talk about a workload, those numbers are "Japanese League" numbers. Players today are not coming close to those numbers. Even Kershaw whose max innings pitched for a season tops off at 236, still not close to Koufax. So stats alone have the comparison skewed, YET, it cannot be ignored that greatness is among us in the form of Clayton Kershaw.

In the end, it will all come down to several things for this young superstar. First, if he can stay healthy. He already had surgery during the last season and came back after the 2014 season was already underway. In the age of many pitchers having "Tommy John" surgery, Kershaw's legacy all depends on his health.

Second, can Kershaw continue these lights out numbers. A former boxer by the name of Mike Tyson comes to mind. The baddest man on the planet during his career, just couldn't keep up the performance. After his loss to Buster Douglas, he was never the same as a fighter. Kershaw's numbers and dominance are very similar to that of Tyson, so the question remains, can Kershaw keep the pace.

3rd and final, his lack of a positive solid postseason will be the deciding factor as to where his legacy ends up. The name Peyton Manning comes up again here as he is the greatest QB of all time ... DURING THE REGULAR SEASON. But come playoff time, Peyton and the talks of all time great becomes a completely different story. Even with one Super Bowl, experts and critics STILL question Peyton's greatness, not as much as before, in the end still do. Kershaw has YET to win an NL Championship and appear in a World Series, let alone win one.

As long as Kershaw is missing a World Series ring, there will always be questions, just as others before him. Does that mean that fans should not appreciate the greatness in front of them, nope. But when the discussions of "All-Time" great come up, then the brakes DO need to be applied just a little bit. Kewshaw is young in his career, so lets enjoy the greatness while he is playing.
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Week 5 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Adds.

Week 4 is almost set in stone, and it's time to get ahead to next week and get up on the competition. Here are some guys to add for week 5 pickups.

Jerrick McKinnon MN: RB @Green Bay

He had 18 rushes this week against Atlanta and turned that into 135 yards and he also had 17 yards receiving. The kid is a freak athlete and it showed on Sunday, he helped big time in the win. He will play Green Bay on Thursday night and GB has given up points to RB's all year. They're the 5th worst against the runners fantasy wise and average around 20 fppg given up. Consider him an RB2/3 this week.

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If Derek Jeter Weren't a Yankee...

What if Derek Jeter never played in Yankee Pinstripes and put up the same stats in Kansas City, Minnesota or Arizona?  What if he remained squeaky clean throughout his career in a Pirates uniform like he has in New York?  Would he still be honored around Major League Baseball with gifts and presentations in his name at opposing stadiums?

We saw his teammate Mariano Rivera go through basically the same exact treatment last season as his retirement was known before the season much like his long time friend, #2.  Mo Rivera is hands down the best closer in MLB Jeter the best Shorts Stop in the history of the game?  That's probably a rhetorical question in the eyes of many.

The common theme here is that they are both New York Yankees and legends to the fans that have watched their entire careers.  But does Derek Jeter deserve the Mo treatment?  Let's examine that question with logic and stats because baseball is all about the numbers right!

Derek Jeter has played all 20 seasons of his major league career as a New York Yankee.  He broke into the pro's in 1995 and seemed to spark the Yankees to renewed glory as the franchise won 4 World Series titles from 1996 - 2000.  They then won a 5th with the "core four" (Jeter, Mo, Posada and Pettite) in 2009 and once again restored Yankee lure.  Championships go a long way with any player in any league, but when it's the NY Yankees than it's even bigger.  Which is why the question is asked if Jeter put up the same numbers in almost any other uniform, would he be getting the king of baseball treatment?

Well he had a damn good career and his numbers a slightly skewed to the negative due to the lack of production his past few seasons.  But what can you expect out of a 40 year old short stop?!  Jeter's career batting average is .310 which is very good, but not great.  It's just that not many short stops are known for having a high batting average as history tells us.  Derek was never a big slugger so his power numbers are minuscule over a 20 year career with 260 home runs and 1,307 RBI's.  But ten again many of those HR's and RBI's came at opportune moments and it seemed he always came through in the clutch.  Especially during the post season.

Jeter's greatest statistic is the fact that he's 6th on the all time hit list with 3,461.  That's his ticket to the Hall of Fame.  That along with his charisma, clutch hitting, post season records and titles will make #2 a first ballot Hall of Famer.  But again I ask you, should he be?  Should he be as beloved as Babe Ruth and other Yankee greats because he wears a single digit number?

I know Jeter is a great ball player but baseball is a numbers game and his don't add up with the all time greats.  Yes being 6th on the all time hits list is phenomenal and the World Series rings cover an entire hand.  But how much credit does he deserve?  Plays like him diving in the stands to catch a foul ball, coming out bloody and bruised along with other memorable moments like his incredible cut off toss to home plate against the Oakland A's during the 2001 playoffs will also get him far and noticed as he clearly put his heart and soul into every play.  He's a true champion on the field and at heart, but does the commission care about his heart?  I'd say yes since he played the game of baseball with nothing but integrity.

Here's a few things Jeter hasn't accomplished or has only done so many times which is where the critics come in.  The Yankee captain has never won an MVP trophy in his 20 years of pro baseball.  For a large part of his career he wasn't even the best SS in the league.  Guys like Nomar Garciaparra, Miguel Tejada, Troy Tulowitzki, Jose Reyes, Jimmy Rollins and yes even Alex Rodriguez all compared or surpassed Jeter by the numbers on the field consistently.

In 20 seasons of MLB baseball, Jeter has only won player of the month once.  That's a little shocking given the amount of months he played during his story book career.  Derek came in 2nd a couple times but never won a batting title.  For a guy who is 6th on the all time hits list, you'd think he would have led the league in hits more than twice.  Batting near the top of the lineup for his entire career with the stacked Yankee lineups, Jeter has only led MLB in runs scored once and that was back in 1998.

Am I nitpicking?  Yes maybe a little because what he has done completely overcomes what he hasn't done on the diamond.  Yet the question remains, if Derek Jeter never played in pinstripes would he be getting the Mariano Rivera treatment?  I highly doubt it.  Jeter's sending off would have been more similar to Chipper Jones than Mo Rivera as Chipper was honored more by video tributes when he visited opposing stadiums.  Chipper Jones is every bit as good a baseball player as Derek Jeter, maybe better!  If Jones played in pinstripes then I bet he would have had the Rivera treatment as well.  It's the Yankee bias that drives these things.  However it's more than fair to point out that all 3 of these players are future Hall of Famers and deservedly so.

What separates Derek Jeter from most of his colleagues are things like his image, leadership, pure love of the game, the will and smarts to do whatever it takes to win, even if it is leaning into a pitch.  But what really stands out are his post season numbers and how clutch he's been in the biggest moments.  Has he played more playoff games than just about anyone else...yes!  But that doesn't take away from his production and consistency year in and year out once the Yankees hit October.  Or November in Derek's case as he displayed his clutch ability by smacking a game winning home run back in the 2000 World Series against the Diamondbacks dubbing him Mr. November.

His career post season numbers which spanned over 33 series and 158 games are great.  He has a .308 BA and a .374 OBP meaning he always gave the sluggers behind him in the lineup an opportunity to drive him in for a run scored.  Jeter won the 2000 WS MVP award and won the All Star game MVP trophy in the same season.  He played excellent defense and has 5 Gold Glove awards to prove it.

The Captain has stolen bases, ran out every play, sacrificed his body numerous times, was named to the All Star team 14 times, was named Rookie of the Year in 1996 and has been nothing but idolized by baseball fans around the world.  But is that enough to deserve this special treatment?  Some will say yes because he played with one team his whole career, showing loyalty and accumulating the numbers he has over 20 years.

Kind of sounds like Craig Biggio in many ways and he played multiple position including catcher, 2nd base and the outfield all with the Houston Astros.  Biggio led the league in more categories more times than Jeter.  But Biggio isn't in the Hall of Fame and is looked at as a player who compiled his stats because of how long he played.  Biggio played for 20 years just like Jeter and going back to Chipper who played 19 years is probably the best of this bunch.  But because Derek Jeter played SS for the New York Yankees he becomes a baseball god.

Do I think Derek Jeter is a Hall of Famer...absolutely.  My thing is, if he played for any other team, maybe even including historic franchises like the Boston Red Sox or Chicago Cubs, I very highly doubt he would be getting the tour and respect he is given as the single digit wearing Yankee short stop.
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NFL Power 32 - Week 4

Every team has played 3 games up to this point with the Giants and Redskins kicking off week 4 Thursday night in Washington D.C.  Six teams are off this week and many will follow as the schedule progresses.  Therefore we must keep things in perspective when some teams are (3-1) and others are (3-2).  Power rankings change weekly, especially during the first 8 weeks of the season as some teams come together and other begin to fall apart.  For now here's what I believe to be the best to the worst as all 32 teams are ranked as follows:

1. Bengals
2. Seahawks
3. Broncos
4. Eagles
5. Cardinals
6. Patriots
7. Chargers
8. Bears
9. Ravens
10. Saints
11. Colts
12. Falcons
13. Lions
14. Cowboys
15. Packers
16. Steelers
17. 49ers
18. Panthers
19. Jets
20. Redskins
21. Browns
22. Texans
23. Bills
24. Chiefs
25. Dolphins
26. Rams
27. Titans
28. Giants
29. Vikings
30. Raiders
31. Bucs
32. Jaguars
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Should the NFL Change the Overtime Rules...Again?

The NFL has been nothing but change over the past month or so in large part due to the criminal activities by certain players leading to changes in Personal Conduct and PED policies within the league.  On the field the biggest change has been how ticky tacky the penalties are that the NFL has enforced and the referees apply during the games.  In a season of change in the NFL, I believe there's time for another reactive move by the league which has been their forte as opposed to being proactive as I preach on our Sunday morning show.

I love Peyton Manning as a player as much as the next guy but this isn't about him or the thrilling overtime loss to the defending champion Seattle Seahawks this past Sunday in a rematch of last years Super Bowl.  I respect the new overtime rules and think it's a more fair way to go about it.  But this rule like every other rule governed by the NFL can be changed and I believe it should.

Currently the overtime rules say that if the receiving team scores a touchdown on their first drive then the game is over and the opposing team doesn't get a crack at a revenge drive.  If the receiving team kicks a field goal the the opposing team will get the ball and have the opportunity to score a touchdown and win themselves or tie the game with a field goal.  If they both kick field goals on each of their first overtime possessions then the next points win no matter which team scores and no matter how it comes.  That's better than the old way where a 50 yard field goal can end overtime in 2 minutes.

I believe both teams should have a chance in overtime no matter if the receiving team scores a touchdown.  Why shouldn't the team watching on the sidelines not be able to go and try to score a touchdown themselves?  This doesn't make sense to me and it didn't when the rule was enforced a couple of seasons ago.

Now I don't want the college football OT rules in the NFL but each team should be given equal opportunity if they were equal throughout the game.  This rule should be and will be changed.  Not because of Peyton Manning and his status as a living legend in the NFL, but because it's the right thing to do.  The players collectively bargained to have this OT rule enforced.  But that doesn't mean it can't be changed.

I know life isn't fair but things should be fair on the playing field as far as the rules apply.  Players may be better on one side of the ball than the other.  But as we know anything can happen in football.  That crazy looking ball bounces funny.  Let's make this as fair and equal as possible and change the overtime rules to where both teams have at least one chance to get on the field whether a TD or FG is scored by the first teams offense.  If they turn over the ball then they had their chance and that rule would stay in place.  Let's start the petition!
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2014 Fantasy Football Surprises

2014 Fantasy Football Surprises
Through Three Weeks
(Point totals based on PPR formatted leagues)

·       Andrew Hawkins: The undrafted fourth year man is making his mark early and often in Offensive Coordinator, Kyle Shanahan’s system and has earned the label as Brian Hoyer’s “Go to guy”. Hawkins has been on Hoyer’s radar 32 times over the first three weeks, hauling in 21 of those 32 targets for 244 yards, which is more than he had during the entire 2013 campaign (199 yards in 8 games played) and just about equals his totals during his rookie year (23/34 for 263 yards playing 13 games in 2011).  He’s yet to locate the end zone but has still been able to be a very productive wide out in PPR formatted leagues thus far in 2014, putting up 16.7, 13 and 15.7 points over the first three weeks respectively. Will his production dip when Josh Gordon returns from suspension? Yes, but until then Hawkins should draw as a high WR3, low WR2 and should definitely be on the flex radar.
Riley Cooper: 
Coming off a promising year last year of 47 receptions on 83 targets for 835 yards and 8 touchdowns, Riley Cooper has been a monumental disappointment through the first three weeks this season. Reports are that Cooper’s role in the Eagle’s offense is diminishing due to the additions of Darren Sproles, Jordan Matthews and the ascension of tight end Zach Ertz. Cooper has totaled 9 catches on 17 targets for a lowly 71 yards and no touchdowns thus far. Officially he’s listed as the number two wide out behind Jeremy Maclin but the rookie Jordan Matthews, who had a breakout game on Sunday with two touchdowns, could soon leave Cooper in the dust on the depth chart. If you drafted him hoping for some of the same production we saw last year, keep hoping because it’s not going to happen, drop him. 

·        Brian Quick: Despite having his starting and backup quarterbacks both knocked out early this season Quick has made himself more than useful for third stringer Austin Davis. Currently the number one wide out on the Rams, Quick has warranted 22 targets while leading the team with 16 receptions, at a clip of 235 yards and is on pace to shatter his career highs in all categories (18 receptions on 34 targets for 302 yards in 2013). He’s proven to be valuable in PPR formatted leagues and even last week against Dallas when he only pulled in 2 catches for 62 yards, Quick was able to add a touchdown to keep his value high. This season his fantasy production has been: 16.9, 14.4 and 14.2 over the first three weeks respectively. Consider him along the same lines as Andrew Hawkins, high upside WR3, low WR2 and definitely a consideration for the flex position.

Eddie Lacy: We knew heading into this year that over the first three weeks Eddie Lacy would have a tough go of it, up against the likes of SEA, NYJ and DET defenses but I don’t think any of us expected Lacy to get off to THIS bad a start. He’s rushed 36 times for 113 yards with no touchdowns and has only 6 catches on 7 targets for 38 yards, without a touchdown as well. The fantasy point breakdown is just as ugly as he has yet to post double digit fantasy numbers: 7.5, 8.1 and 3.5 over the first three weeks of the season. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for Lacy owners as he goes up against a weak, injured and young Bears defense who did add Jared Allen this offseason but tonight against the Jets they’ll be without Charles “Peanut” Tillman, Jay Ratliff and Shea McClellin. The Bears defense allowed 183 and 127 yards rushing total to the Bills and 49ers respectively, I look for Eddie Lacy to breakout in week 4 against Chicago and return to his RB1 status in which you drafted him expecting.

·       DeAndre Hopkins: Currently the number two wide receiver behind the great Andre Johnson, DeAndre Hopkins is making a name for himself so far this season after a solid rookie campaign last season (52 receptions on 91 targets for 802 yards and 2 TDs). Hopkins is enjoying the freedoms of the opposing team doubling Andre Johnson, as he’s brought in 13 catches on 19 targets for 227 yards and two touchdowns. He’s proven dependable for game managing quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick as he’s made 9 of his 13 catches in the second half of games this season. From a pure fantasy perspective DeAndre Hopkins has added value in PPR formatted leagues but he’s proving he can get it done on yardage and touchdown performance. This season his point totals are: 21.9, 11.2 and 18.6. These totals could be considered WR2 totals for any team but Hopkins has definite high WR3 upside along with upside flex consideration.

·       Josh McCown: The 35 year old quarterback signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to become, new head coach, Lovie Smiths starting quarterback. McCown was coming off an unbelievable season, where he started 8 games for the injured Jay Cutler in Chicago, threw for 1,829 yards, 13 TDs and only a single INT. McCown signed a two year, ten million dollar contract to be the Bucs starter but so far he’s proving that last season was more of an aberration rather than a trend upward. So far, McCown’s 43/68 for 420 yards, 2 TDs and 4 INTs and if you guessed those numbers don’t equate to solid fantasy totals you would be absolutely right. His totals through week three are: 17.85, 19.55 and .90 with the final total resulting from a hand injury he suffered early last Thursday in a rout against the Atlanta Falcons. The injury doesn’t bode well for McCown or his owners, hopefully if you drafted him it was only as a backup and a bye week plug in. Regardless of why he’s on your team I’d say it may be time to look elsewhere for a backup and grab Kirk Cousins if he’s still available in your league.

·      Rashad Jennings: This is the first time Jennings has got the keys to the car as the full time starting number one running back and so far he’s done a stand up job. Coming into a year where Eli Manning was heavily criticized we knew the Giants needed a dependable running back to balance out the offense and so far Manning and the Giants have got just that with Rashad Jennings.  Over the first three weeks Jennings has carried the ball 68 times for 286 yards and added two touchdowns. He does most of his damage on 1st and 2nd downs and as the game wears on and his carries increase he becomes that much more effective, posting a 7 yards per carry avg. on carry numbers 26-30 in a game. In addition, he’s proven to be a dependable pass catcher, hauling in 8 balls from the backfield on 9 targets for 95 yards. Jennings absolutely broke out this past week against Houston when he carried the ball 34 times for 176 yards and a touchdown. The fantasy production has been stellar thus far posting point totals of: 20.1, 12.9 and 24.6 points in the first three weeks. Rashad Jennings has answered the bell thus far and should continue his production as a RB1 in any formatted league. 
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End of the Road approaching for a Yankee Legend

As the MLB season continues to wind down to an end, playoff berths are becoming solidified, division titles being clinched and fights for home-field advantage become more intense, the road of a historic career of one particular player approaches its end, Yankees Shortstop, Derek Jeter.

Yeah, yeah it is no surprise and some will say that they are tired of hearing about Jeter, some will say he is not a Yankee legend, the facts are the facts. In an era that for the most part is well known as "The Steroid Era," Derek Jeter was not once ever accused or linked in ANY way to this stigma of baseball.

His 20-year career will come to an end this season, a career filled with many accolades. He will finish as the all-time hits leader for the Yankees (3455 and climbing), finish with a career batting average over .300. Most important of all, Derek Jeter will always have a hand FULL of World Series Championships (5).

Jeter played the game of baseball as it was meant to be played. Not with power, not with strength, but with elegance, skill, hard work and grace. Jeter was humble, a team player and a great teammate to be around. Jeter's smile was always brightening up someone's day as it seemed more like a tattoo as it never went away. His hustle plays are legendary, the flip against the Oakland A's, which turned around the series entirely, to the running catch against the Red Sox, which left him bloody in the chin, Derek Jeter never took his foot off the gas pedal when it came to his on the field play, he was at formula one racing speed every game.

Jeter may not have been one of the biggest, may not have been one of the flashiest, nor one of the most flamboyant, but Derek Jeter was most certainly one of the most RESPECTED players ever to play in MLB. All that made Derek Jeter is what gravitated people to Jeter. People like Michael Jordan, Cal Ripen Jr., just to name a couple, very well respected and great in their own sports. Fans respect Jeter, YES even Red Sox fans have major respect for Derek Jeter.

When the 2014 MLB regular season comes to an end, it will also bring about the end of a career and potential one of the last in a line of GREAT players who make their greatness from being the "underdog." A player who never truly got the respect he so rightfully deserved. For as all the attention went on players like Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemons etc... Derek Jeter surpassed em all, with his on AND off the field life ... and that does not even go into his personal life and the 'A' list of ladies associated with the Yankees captain.

If the Yankees make the playoffs, the season will continue for Derek Jeter and the Yankees. But if not, it has been an absolute pleasure to watch GREATNESS for 20-years and best wishes on your future endeavours. Thank you for all the memories and #RE2PECT always and forever for you Derek Jeter are Yankee Legend.
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Pique’s Run at the WSOP

For Barcelona’s most valued central defender, Gerard Pique, the elimination from this year’s World Cup was the worst possible scenario this summer. Only winning their final group game against Australia 3-0, the early exit was one that stunned the world. What made it even more shocking is that Spain was defending the title they won in 2010.

So, for Pique the idle hours of such an exit needed to be hastily filled so that he didn’t dwell on such failures. However, with the football season dormant and the World Cup on all TV screens across the world, the need to focus on something else became even more apparent. 

Pique chose to pursue one of his life dreams in the idle months ahead. The ex-Manchester United star made it a reality when he secured a seat at this year’s World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, Nevada</a>. He managed to claim a large stack during Day 1 of the tournament however was later eliminated. 

But this didn’t quell Pique’s desire to play more poker when he decides to hang his boots up and retire from soccer. Over the last 5 years Pique has become fascinated by the world of poker and is reported to play online during his downtime at his home in Barcelona, so that one day he can compete more prolifically at the world’s most prestigious events.

Poker saw a rise in participation in the early 90s, predominantly due to the launch of online casino gaming via InterCasino. The online market has had a huge affect on the sport and the online gaming industry will reportedly be worth $100 billion by 2017. So, it’s no surprise that many are clambering to get a piece of the action.

And although Pique’s best years of soccer are probably still ahead of him, after this year’s WSOP, it sure that he will be getting in as much training as possible to make his next appearance that more significant. 
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