Thursday, September 29, 2011

Playoff Baseball... Catch It!

If last night’s finish to the MLB regular season is indicative of what’s in store for the playoffs, we, as fans, are in for a real treat!  In playoff baseball, every out is important and teams never quit. Tampa Bay, behind 7-0 to the Yankees in the eighth inning, with their playoff lives hanging by a thread, battled back, scoring six runs in the bottom of the eighth to pull within one, then, with 0.108 hitting Dan Johnson at the plate and down to his last strike in the bottom of the ninth, ties the score at 7 with an improbable pinch-hit homerun. Tampa wins the game in the bottom of the twelfth when Evan Longoria hits his second home run of the game, completing an improbable comeback in the game, and the season as the Boston Red Sox blew a nine game lead after September 3 in the wild card race when they gave up a two run lead in the ninth inning of their last game and lost to the Baltimore Orioles 4-3. Meanwhile, in the National League the Braves completed a similar collapse, losing to the Phillies 4-3 in thirteen innings while the St. Louis Cardinals finished off their own hot streak, overcoming Atlanta’s 10.5 game lead in the wild card standings on Aug 25 by winning 23 of their last 31 games.  The Phillies meaningless victory over the Braves guarantees them a series against these same red-hot Cardinals where each game is sure to be fought to the last out. In baseball, unlike other sports, you can never run out of time, until that final out is made you always have a chance. This intensity is ratcheted up in the playoffs where the stakes are so high, the intensity level so strong, that playoff baseball is the most entertaining, nerve-racking, exciting sporting event there is, and I, for one, can’t wait!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

All we are saying, is give Reid a chance

To listen to all the hue and cry emanating from Eagles fans you’d think Andy Reid had lost his mind and forgotten how to coach.  On the contrary, the one thing you can count on with the best coach in Eagles history is that he won’t change.  Reid is what he is, a great organizer and planner who prepares so well, and gets so locked in, that when the game starts, he cannot adjust, or at least until he explores all his contingency plans (this frequently results in wasted timeouts or delay of game penalties as he pours over his myriad options).   His preparation can’t be faulted. Where he might receive criticism is an inability to acknowledge his weakness, that in-game adjustments aren’t his strong suit and hiring a coach with this talent to help during the games. Not recognizing one’s own faults is an all too common trait.
Defensively, he has never valued linebackers, preferring to pressure the quarterback and cover receivers downfield, thus Eagles linebackers are frequently inexperienced low round draft picks or undrafted free agents.   This philosophy is not necessarily erroneous as during Reid’s tenure the Eagles defense usually ranks near the top of the league.  Defensive coordinator Juan Castillo is learning, but all indications are no one works harder. I firmly believe He will adjust and integrate the many new players into the system   The Eagles have frequently started seasons poorly, but Reid usually gets things straightened out by October.  Let’s give him the chance again before we all fracture our ankles jumping off the bandwagon.  To all those calling for his ouster, I have two words:  Rich Kotite.

Monday, September 5, 2011

"Bolden" go Where No Man has Gone Before

Saturday’s 41-7 victory over Indiana State couldn’t have been heartening to Penn State fans. The game was not expected to be more than a tune-up for next week’s big game against number 1 Alabama, and, it lived up to expectations. What fans hoped to get out of the game was an indication as to which quarterback should lead the offense, sophomore Rob Bolden or redshirt junior Matt McGloin . Instead, what we got was what we had going in, as the inadvertent graphic on the Big Ten Network broadcast displayed…Rob McGloin. Neither quarterback set the world on fire. Neither was terrible. McGloin's stats were slightly better, but Bolden's two long passes dropped by wide receivers.  My informal exit poll of fans leaving Beaver Stadium on Saturday was that the team looked more energetic with McGloin, and for this reason, he should be the starter.   I agree, they did look more energetic, but disagree in thinking this should make him the starter. This energy burst added by McGloin makes him the perfect reliever.   Bolden is the more talented of the two, but the less experienced (at least in terms of practicing the PSU offensive system).  McGloin, for all his energy, has a few flaws, chief of which is a tendency to attempt to force something that is not there. The more he plays, the more these flaws are exposed. However, if the PSU offense were bogged down, going nowhere, this aggressiveness and energy may prove to be the perfect pick-me- up (see last year’s Northwestern game, Paterno’s 400th victory, as example 1-A.) Bolden may or may not live up to the hype his status as a prime recruit engendered,  but he will have the chance to better develop  by starting and being given the opportunity to show that he can be the man for the next three seasons.  McGloin has shown he can be the energy boost needed to kick start a desultory performance, but when he is overexposed (see his five interception bowl performance), his flaws emerge for all to see.