5 MLB Trades That Should But (Probably) Won’t Happen Before the Deadline

The trade MLB Deadline is now hours away and a flurry of action will surely take place before 4pm Monday. Here’s five deals that are too good, make too much sense, are just way too juicy to actually really happen. But if they could…..

 

Justin Verlander to the Dodgers

This deal makes too much sense on multiple levels. First — the non-baseball reason, Verlander’s engaged to justin-verlander-6-19jpg-a95616522e1abd0csupermodel Kate Upton. Where do supermodels like to hang out? New York and L.A. sound about right? Show me a model who doesn’t like Hollywood and I’ll show you some beachfront property in Nebraska. With the Yankees selling this year and the Mets being fully stocked at the starting pitcher position, we are left with the Dodgers, who just happen to be minus their ace lefty Clayton Kershaw.

The Dodgers are chasing the Giants in the division and are probably not as good as the Cubs or Nationals — and without Kershaw they may not even be a Wild Card team. Go get a former AL MVP and Cy Young winner. Verlander was viewed as all but washed up this time a year ago; but since has slowly returned to ace status in the Tiger rotation and has been lights for most of this season. In 21 starts, Verlander has allowed less than 4 runs 18 times and has a 1.63 ERA in his last 5 trips to the mound.

The Tigers are riding a 6-game win streak so good luck convincing anyone that the team is selling. But it sure does make sense.

 

Chris Sale to the Cubs

Let me begin by saying that Sale should be going nowhere. The fact that he is owed so little money over the next 493214977three years of his contract — average of about $12.5 million thru 2019 — makes him a bargain for the Southsiders. But the clubhouse unrest and Sale’s frustration over the years with management have placed the lanky lefty square on the trading block. The more you listen, the more it sounds like the White Sox are asking for too much. But if the All-Star went across town and joined the Cubs, wouldn’t we all have quite a story?

Seems nuts — and probably is — but hear me out for just a second before clicking elsewhere. Cubs GM Theo Epstein wants to add more depth to the starting rotation. More specifically, he’d like long-term depth — add it and reap the benefits this season, but also have it for the coming years because reigning Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta still hasn’t quite been consistent enough the last few months, and, oh by the way, he’s only under contract thru 2017. And Epstein has been reluctant to show his cards when asked about Arrieta’s future with the team.

Sale would provide both the short-term and long-term help that the Cubs are seeking.

 

Jay Bruce to the Blue Jays

It’s surprising that the outfielder is still in a Reds’ uniform to be honest. And there’s been talk of Bruce going to the i-2Mets, the Indians, the Rangers, the Giants. But what makes better sense than another big bat joining the already-big bats north of the border? Bautista, Donaldson, Incarnation, and Bruce. What pitcher wants to see that lineup?

Toronto has already climbed side-by-side with Baltimore as the drivers of that division — a tough Red Sox schedule over the next 3 weeks would seem to take them out of contention. The Blue Jays are a home run hitting team, like it or not. They will live or die on their ability or inability to score a lot of runs — they aren’t all that interested in getting into 2-1  pitchers’ duels with anyone.

The addition of Bruce would have Jays’ fans drooling all over themselves well into October, you’d have have to think. And even if they missed the playoffs, what fun would that lineup be to watch?!

 

Sonny Gray to the Pirates

The Pirates spent some time scouting the righty recently so this one may be realistic. And it should be. The Piratessonny-gray.vresize.1200.675.high.81 have been piece-mealing their staff together for much of the year due to injuries to Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon. Led by the likes of Francisco Liriano, Jon Niese, and Jeff Locke, Pittsburgh’s rotation is sorely in need of an ace and some stability.

Behind an offense led by Andrew McCutcheon, the Buccos are in the Wild Card hunt. Imagine if they add a starting pitcher who can get them 7 innings every 5th day. Gray’s young, but he has been tested in multiple playoff series in the last few seasons, before Oakland hit their current rough patch. The Pirates are looking to set a franchise-best by making the postseason for the fourth consecutive year. If they are going to, Gray would be a big step in that direction.

 

Jonathan Lucroy to the Mets

The Mets are the one team that seems to have been in this thing for the longest. Yes, the Rangers showed interest, 011916-MLB-Brewers-Jonathan-Lucroy-PI-CH.vadapt.980.high.91the Tigers put out an offer, the Dodgers dabbled in talks with the Brewers, and the Indians even MADE the deal for the all-star catcher — and then he vetoed it. But after it all, here the Mets still stand, hoping, wanting to make a deal.

By the 4pm deadline on Monday, I fully expect this deal to be done — which means it probably won’t. But it really does seem to make sense. And for the Mets to not back off and not pursue other trade partners tells me that they sense something can be worked out out here.

 

Feedback is welcome through the website in the comments box or send me your thoughts on Twitter @brian22goodwin.

 

 

 

 

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The Fantasy 3: Who to Avoid in 2016

There are always players everyone seems to want when draft season rolls around. And many times, buyer’s remorse sets in around October – sometimes sooner. Save yourself the trouble and avoid the following players this year.

Jamaal Charles

Nothing will keep fantasy owners from drafting running backs quite like hearing the words “30 years old” or “recent knee injury”. While the KC workhorse isn’t quite of age yet (29 until December), the RB is coming off his hi-res-186038894-running-back-jamaal-charles-of-the-kansas-city-chiefs_crop_exactsecond ACL tear in 5 years. And, yes, Charles managed to bounce back with authority in 2012 after his first major injury by rushing for a career-best 1,509 yards. He’s an outstanding pass catcher out of the backfield and mixes power with elusive quickness. There’s no doubting the talent or the work ethic of Charles. But when does the body refuse to do the things it used to be able to do? No one can put an exact time or number on that question, but, again, when you start pushing 30 and you’ve had multiple knee operations, you start to get your answer.

In addition, the Chiefs will likely be more apt to dispelling Charles from time to time with Spencer Ware and Charcanderick West in order to save their stud back for the stretch run in December and possibly January. While that’s probably great news for KC fans, it’s disheartening for fantasy owners who want and expect Charles to produce numbers of old.

LeSean McCoy

A couple things bother me about McCoy this year. First, Rex Ryan offenses never seem to be all that innovative or productive as far as individual stats go. Few players in that system end up producing gaudy offensive numbers. GettyImages-488589822.vadapt.980.high.22McCoy has all the tools and the talent to be very productive and to be on someone’s roster within the top 20 picks of a draft. But how he is used in the offense is where the question marks come into play.

Secondly, McCoy’s drop off as a top RB hasn’t exactly happened overnight. His lack of TD productivity has been evident over the past 4 seasons and his drop in yards after contact has fallen in each of the last 6. Add to the equation that Karlos Williams has proven to be a RB1 and that McCoy has dealt with injury in 4 of his 7 seasons in the league.

A lot of experts are high on McCoy and expect big numbers from him – especially in PPR leagues. Suffice to say, I’m not one of them. But, hey, I don’t claim to be an expert either.

Dez Bryant

This is a complicated one. It was just one year ago that Bryant was a sure-fire top 2 WR, who garnered much 1st round consideration. However, a disappointing 2015 season coupled with more foot problems (a third surgery) makes the all-pro wide receiver a questionable draft choice early on. You also have to consider the health and 10405206-largedurability of Tony Romo this season.

So when I say to “avoid” Dez, I mean stay away from reaching on him in one of the first 2 rounds. His value has declined – but many magazines and media publications still tout him as a top 5 WR. And knowing that, people are guaranteed to eye him with one of their first two picks for sure. I’m warning against that. In the event your league is full of smart fantasy players (or guys who read this column), you may find him in the 3rd round and, then, by all means pick him up.

Another interesting note on Dez – the Cowboys have a very favorable schedule, especially the first couple months. It’d be a savvy move to grab Dez – even if it means drafting him in one of the first two rounds – and use him as trade bait after a month or so of what can expected to be very productive fantasy output.

Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed — @brian22goodwin.

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“Slightly Too Early” NFL 2016 Bold Predictions: AFC West

With NFL Training Camps opening, it seems appropriate that our sport-oriented minds start making room for football. And albeit a plethora of things could change between July and the start of the regular season in September, it’s still fun to project what may happen this year for teams and players. Over the next few weeks, I will take each division at a time and point to one prediction I have for each team. Let’s start out west where the defending champions reside: the AFC West.

 

Denver Broncos

No Denver QB, RB, or WR will rank in top 10 at their respective position in the major statistical 635636018155898264-AP-Broncos-Rams-Football-MOJcategories.

There were many times last season that this team did not appear to be championship-caliber: unproven quarterback, question marks and injuries plaguing the backfield, rumors surrounding the hall-of-fame veteran QB, who was benched. But in the end and when it mattered most, the Bronco offense was efficient and the defense stellar.

This season features a different quarterback at the helm in journeyman Mark Sanchez or rookie first round pick Paxton Lynch. While the defense should remain formidable, the changes on offense could serve to hamper Denver’s chances at the playoffs, let alone repeating as conference and Super Bowl champions.

Regardless of who head coach Gary Kubiak settles on at QB, the ramifications will have an impact on the team’s ability to run the football and convert explosive pass plays. Expect a down year from Pro Bowl wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, and with a quarterback starting who has a lot to prove, defenses are likely to spend a lot of their time focusing in on the Denver running game.

 

Kansas City Chiefs

hi-res-186038894-running-back-jamaal-charles-of-the-kansas-city-chiefs_crop_exactJamaal Charles’s 2015 torn ACL has been and will be a blessing in disguise.

When All-Pro RB Jamaal Charles suffered his second torn ACL in 5 years last season, who would have thought the Chiefs would still make the playoffs and that they would be in  such a good position this season with their running backs? Charles’s injury opened the door for Spencer Ware and Charcanderick West to prove themselves as viable options out of the backfield. This year, expect fewer touches for Charles — saving his legs for what the Chiefs hope is a playoff run into January — and more carries for Ware and West.

With this solid RBBC and a very staunch defense, the Chiefs’ Super Bowl hopes may rest squarely on the shoulders of Alex Smith and his receiving corps.

 

Oakland Raiders

The Raiders will win the AFC West.

All four teams in this division have the feel of 7 to 9 wins. No team currently stands without big question marks NFL: Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefssomewhere on their roster. So with that said, the Raiders look like the team that might have the highest ceiling. A young QB entering his 3rd season as a starter, who has put up some of the best numbers in his first 2 years in the league of any quarterback ever; a solid run game; young, explosive wide receivers; and a defense built around speed and rushing the QB.

If Derek Carr continues to progress as he has in his early career, the Oakland offense should be highly potent. And head coach Jack Del Rio has put together a defense that is physical, ball-hawking, and hell-bent on getting to the quarterback, led by third year DE Khalil Mack. It might be time to welcome the Raiders back to the playoffs this January.

 

San Diego Chargers

Chargers will double their win total from 2015.

Evidence, collected by people way smarter than me, shows the San Diego Chargers were not quite as bad as their 4-12 record indicated last season. Mike McCoy’s team blew 4 halftime leads and posted a 3-8 record in games decided iby one score. The law of averages usually straightens things out — either the Chargers’ 2015 season was an anomaly and they suffered a great deal of bad luck or they are just trending in a downward direction. With Phillip Rivers manning the ship and playmakers Melvin Gordon and Keenan Allen healthy, San Diego looks more like a team who is looking to rebound in 2016.

The Chargers made upgrades to a defense that struggled immensely last year. Not to mention, they are lucky to play in a division where no team appears to be head and shoulders above the rest.

 

Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed — @brian22goodwin.

 

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Warning Sports Fans!! Sports isn’t Real!!!

In a world where violence seems to be growing; terrorism threatens our freedoms; and public safety comes into question, sports should act as a welcomed and needed respite. The old adage rings true that when the world is unkind, sports provides us with a break from reality. NFL Sunday after 9-11, the World Series in 1989 in the Bay
Area after the earthquake, even as far back as the 1936 Olympic Games where Jesse Owens gave hope and pride to a people and a country when Europe was teetering on the brink of combustion.

We have always looked to sports to take us away from our problems—the world’s problems – because, and this may be hard for some to understand, sports isn’t real life. What happens on the court or the field is a game. It should be fun – for the players and athletes who are competing as well as for all us fans who cheer and pay attention.

A prime example of how sports does not behave like real life came this past weekend in the Chicago White Sox clubhouse.

Before we get on with the details of the whacky, unbelievable events from Saturday in Chicago, let me first ask how many of you have at one point or another disliked or disagreed with a boss’s expectation, mandate, or directive? Probably all of us fit in this boat. White Sox All-Star pitcher Chris Sale certainly fits in. The lefty hurler disapproved pi-mlb-royals-whitesox-pg-chris-sale-42415.vadapt.664.high.19of management’s decision to put the players in 1976 throwback uniforms for Saturday night’s game at home against the Detroit Tigers. Fine. Probably not the only person unhappy or irritated about it – the unis are not the same breathable material they’re used to, they’re baggy, and I’m sure not all that comfortable. However, all teams in all sports do it – it’s called marketing and making money – and many players in all sports probably don’t particularly care for it. That’s an understatement when it comes to describing how Sale felt about it.

The Sox ace, reportedly, expressed his desire to not wear the jersey, and when the organization dismissed his opinion, Sale proceeded to shred his jersey as well as teammates’ jerseys with a knife. Yeah. That sounds like normal behavior. When’s the last time you took a machete to your work attire because you didn’t like it or it was uncomfortable? Can’t say I’ve ever heard of a guy on Wall Street ripping up his three-piece suit that the CEO wants him to wear because he’s uncomfortable. Not sure the last time I witnessed a UPS or FedEx driver pull out a Swiss Army knife on his uniform because he didn’t care for it.

The result: Sale was suspended 5 games (misses 1 start).

I don’t care about the suspension for the act – the team’s official statement was Sale was suspended and sent home for “destroying team equipment”. How about we just all be honest and suspend the guy or dock his pay or make him take classes for acting like a spoiled brat, like a child who didn’t get his way. You make millions of dollars (and I’m not arguing that he should abandon his principles or ethics or morals for the money) and you can’t throw on a jersey for a couple hours to go and do your job? And if you absolutely cannot, you couldn’t at least find another way of expressing yourself besides taking a shank to a bunch of shirts?

Of course, Sale’s agent immediately spun it in a positive way for his client – how Chris cares only about winning and no one wants to win more than Chris and no one’s a better teammate than Chris. (No mention of how no one is more immature than Chris or how no one has a shorter fuse than Chris.) Sale, himself, couldn’t even muster up one of those “celebrity apologies” we’ve all grown so accustomed to hearing. Basically, “if I offended anyone, I’m sorry”. No, his was more like, “I don’t regret standing up for my beliefs and I don’t regret putting winning first”.  So what exactly are you apologizing for?

How is this real life? Where in the world does this story occur – aside from the sports world or Hollywood (which also is not real life)?

I love sports, pay attention to sports, play sports when I can and have played them since I was a kid. I will encourage my son to play sports. There are tremendous life lessons that can be learned from sports. But let’s not confuse sports for real life. When the buzzer sounds and the whistle blows, it’s back to reality. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with losing yourself in a game (playing or watching), but know that when it’s over real life is still there. Games are called games for a reason.

 

Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed — @brian22goodwin.

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The Fantasy 3: Three “Must Haves” As Your Draft Approaches

Here are 3 fantasy “must haves” in my opinion this season. All three of these guys are affordable, you won’t need to reach on them, and they will provide you with valuable point production.

A.J. Green

The Bengal All-Pro wideout had a less than impressive season in 2015. But Green still managed nearly 1300 yards and 10 touchdowns. Tight End Tyler Eifert had an exceptional year in 2015 – taking some receptions and TDs away 635844166052926339-1129BengalsRamsSG-07from Green. This year the Bengals’ offense will be without wide receivers Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones, which may give Green (and Eifert for that matter) more looks from Andy Dalton.

Despite what some would call a down year in ’15, Green was still targeted on over 27% of Dalton’s passes; and with Eifert, combined for over 70% of Bengals’ receiving touchdowns.

The biggest factor in determining Green’s success or not this season may be predicated on the success of his quarterback. Dalton’s 25 touchdowns and 7 interceptions last season came in an injury-shortened year that saw the ex-TCU passer play in only 13 games. Arguably, 2015 was Dalton’s most efficient season at the helm of the Cincinnati offense. If his growth continues, Green may be primed for a return to elite fantasy receiver status.

Ryan Mathews

With the departure of DeMarco Murray to Tennessee, the Philadelphia backfield is Mathews’s to lose. If the former Charger can’t grab hold of the majority of the workload this season, you might want to consider the fact that Mathews may never be able to be the number one guy.

Injuries have plagued the young back’s career since his days in San Diego, which is a legitimate concern for ownersRyan Mathews, Colin Jones hoping Mathews takes ownership of the Eagles’ backfield. This may be Mathews’s best opportunity to put up solid fantasy numbers as new head coach Doug Pederson brings his running back-heavy brand of offense to the City of Brotherly Love. The former Kansas City offensive coordinator had a hand in Jamaal Charles’s rise to stardom, as one of the NFL’s premier running backs over the last few seasons. And last season was, perhaps, the most impressive display of coaching by Pederson, when Charles went down with a season-ending injury and the Chiefs shifted their reliance to unproven RBs Charcanderick West and Spencer Ware.

To be clear, I would not reach on Mathews in any round earlier than 6. But if he’s available in the 6th or 7th rounds, he’d be a good value grab – especially for owners who need a 3rd RB on their roster at this point in the draft.

Derek Carr

If I told you to guess the top 2 quarterbacks to throw the most touchdowns in their first two NFL seasons, you’d NFL: Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefsprobably guess Dan Marino, but I’m sure you would guess about 100 other QBs (maybe more) before you got to Derek Carr. But Carr’s first two seasons have been spectacular as far as TD production. Add the fact that Amari Cooper is now established and has a full year under his belt, Carr may be in store for his best season yet.

In addition to Cooper, Oakland has managed to put together a well-rounded offense to compliment Carr – Michael Crabtree at WR and Latavius Murray in the backfield. Not to mention head coach Jack Del Rio’s personality appears to have rubbed off on his mean-spirted, nasty defense. With the question marks that hang over the offenses in the AFC West, the Raider defense should wreak havoc and provide Carr and the electric offense more opportunities to put points on the board.

 

Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed — @brian22goodwin.

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Week in Review: Henrik-Phil Shootout, Brock Being Bad, Brady’s Still Suspended, and More

It’s the middle of July and, no, there’s little going on the world of sports. That’s why do agree to go on summer vacations with family now and take a long weekend up north, right? Don’t get me wrong – no one’s ever had to twist my arm to get away during the summer for a little R&R. But it’s also a nice touch that the summer is the dead period for sports – NFL training camps haven’t started, NBA and NHL players are away on vacations themselves, and MLB is merely in the middle of their dreadfully long regular season. However, now that I’ve returned from a week-long escape with the family, I see there are a few things worth looking back at. And if you yourself missed any, take the time to catch up.

The Open Championship Turns into a Two-Man Shootout at Royal Troon

Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson began separating themselves from the field on Saturday, and the gap only increasingly widened as the final round played out. The two engaged in a shot-for-shot battle for the ages. The AFP 554090457 S GLF GBR“Duel in the Sun” between greats Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson at Royal Turnberry in the 1977 Open Championship has long been considered the greatest tit-for-tat showdown in the sport. And Johnny Miller’s 63 at Oakmont in the final round of the 1973 U.S. Open is widely regarded as the greatest round ever in golf. What on-lookers witnessed last Sunday may have surpassed both of those in the historic annals of golf.

Stenson’s 63 was incredible on it’s own; add Phil’s 65 to that and the fact the two matched each other’s shots over and over again makes the feat even more breath-taking. What entertainment, and who’d have thought it’d have come from two guys not named Jordan or Jason or Rory.

“Deflategate” is Finally Over

Tom Brady’s appeal of his 4-game suspension handed down by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for his role in “Deflategate” was rejected by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. So Brady now sits out until October after issuing a statement saying he will not seek an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Patriots will get to see what Jimmy Garoppolo brings to the table, and Bill Belichick gets to fume and plot and plan how best to embarrass the other 31 teams in the league – a la what happened after “Spygate”.

MLB Trade Deadline

Ok, so no one has missed anything worth reporting here. Yet. As with every July, names get thrown around and many go nowhere; but there’s always action and sometimes the big names do get dealt. Stay tuned.

Brock Lesnar Fails Two Doping Tests

The WWE and UFC star enjoyed a short-lived celebration after defeating Mark Hunt at UFC 200. It became public that Lesnar failed not one, but two drug tests during the pre-fight and post-fight testing conducted by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. The violation is clearly not a good look for Lesnar, who has been surrounded by allegations of doping dating back to his collegiate wrestling days, 20 years ago. But the news comes as an even bigger blow to UFC, who just suspended star Jon “Bones” Jones for a similar failed test.

Rio Olympics

Yep. They’re still set to happen. No amount of common sense can stop the runaway train that is the International Olympic Committee.

Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed — @brian22goodwin.

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The Fantasy 3: Edition 2

Let’s play “Should I or Shouldn’t I”. Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed — @brian22goodwin.

Should I or Shouldn’t I…….

…trade up to the #1 overall pick in my draft?

Shouldn’t.

Not this season, at least. I’ve always been a big believer in grabbing the high point producers – and as many of them as you can. As in most drafts, the guys picking aren’t total clowns (right?) so they follow Yahoo! or CBS or ESPN or some other magazine. Ultimately, they aren’t out there drafting players who don’t belong – at least in the first round or 2. So if I’m to get a couple or three of these point-hogs, I have to get creative and find a trading partner who believes in the opposite of what I do – he would rather stockpile a bunch of 2nd, 3rd, 4th round picks and let me take his 1st rounder.

More often than not, that is my strategy in the weeks leading up to the draft. (It’s fun, it’s entertaining, images-3and it’s really what I believe as far as putting the best team together.) This year, however, I will venture down a more conservative path. Perhaps because I’m still nursing some burns from the past few seasons; perhaps, also, because I’ve seen what happens with these big point scorers – Andrew Luck, Eddie Lacy, Jamaal Charles, LeVeon Bell for instance from last year. All hurt or just flat out underwhelming. Either way, it’s not worth trading up for them. Even if you have your eyes on the players that are being projected to be in the running for that number 1 spot this season – Todd Gurley, Antonio Brown, Bell, Odell Beckham, it’s awfully risky.

I love the excitement of making pre-draft trades and mixing it up, but this year I stress caution.

…enjoy drafting at the turn this year (10 and 11 in 10 team leagues, for example)?

Should.

Most years the turn is a fine spot to be, and this year is no different. You’re sure to have a couple top RBs sitting there, who people passed on because they went the WR route in the first round. The top TE will likely be on the board as well as WRs in that 2-5 range.

It’s a pretty good spot to be if you were only taking one player, let alone two! Imagine snagging AP and Gronk or Dez and David Johnson. For those of you who won’t want to wait so long for your QB, this spot works for you too – although I strongly urge against a QB selection before round 8 at the absolute earliest. You could come away with Cam and Gronk or A-Rod and AP.

…roll the dice with some rookies in the middle rounds of my draft?

Shouldn’t.

Last year’s outstanding rookie class really is going to have people rethinking how and when they take these first year players. I’m not saying to avoid rookies at all costs – instead, I’m cautioning you to not reach on any. The ones who will go off the draft board early are not the guys I’m referring to. For instance, Ezekiel Elliott should be a first round pick – maybe top 5. I’m fine with that. I’m just saying don’t try and find the next Todd Gurley in the 3 or 4th round like last season. It doesn’t happen often and it’s a terrible risk.

Research the rookie class ahead of your draft. Put some stars next to some names that you think could be impact players on the field this year for their respective teams – be sure to consider the team they play for, their schedule/division, the head coach they play for, and any injuries they dealt with in college. Then in the later rounds of the draft once you have build a decent amount of depth, go ahead a pick a few of those guys that you starred. You have depth already so these picks won’t kill you if they turn sour, and by waiting you allow other owners in your league to take some of these rookies – leaving proven veterans on the board, who will continue to add depth to your roster.

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Tim Duncan Leaves Game Much the Same Way He Played It

British politician, Iain Duncan Smith, says, “Do not underestimate the determination of a quiet man”. Do you think he is a Spurs fan?

In a day and age where we have to endure lengthy, season-long farewell tours, we were all treated to a bittim-duncan of an old-fashioned moment when the San Antonio Spurs organization released a statement saying that the stalwart of the winningest franchise over the past 19 seasons, Tim Duncan, had retired. Duncan, true to form, released nothing. The 15-time All-Star entered retirement the same way he approached every day as an NBA superstar and future Hall of Famer — without fanfare.

It’s not often in today’s world that we have to remind ourselves why a great player is so special – usually they do a fine job of telling us why they’re so good. But not Tim Duncan. The Big Fundamental (Shaq’s nickname for him because you know full well that Duncan would have no part in calling himself anything other than, simply, Tim) quietly put together one of the greatest careers of any player in NBA history. He’s recognized as the greatest power forward to ever play the game (a chunk of people will argue it’s Karl Malone). In 19 seasons as the leader of the Spurs – a franchise whose success can be unequivocally tied to Duncan directly, the 5-time NBA champion ranks 14th all-time in points scored, 6th all-time in total rebounds, and 5th all-time in blocked shots.

Duncan won the NBA MVP award in back-to-back seasons in 2001-2002 and 2002-2003, and he earned Finals MVP 3 times during his 5 title runs. His longevity is another piece to the “Tim Duncan Story” that makes him so special. He started his career battling inside with guys like Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, Shaquille O’Neal, and Hakeem Olajuwon. And then he ended playing against the best players of the new generation – LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry.

The NBA reacted to news of Duncan’s retirement on Twitter:

No finer mix of quiet, unselfishness and pure dominance have we seen from an NBA great. The Spurs will not look the same without Duncan. He may have been unassuming, may have been soft-spoken; but you couldn’t miss him. And you certainly shouldn’t have ever underestimated him.

 

Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed — @brian22goodwin.

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5 Golfers Who Might Be Able to Tame Troon

Royal-Troon-Golf-ClubI know — Jason, Jordan, Rory, DJ – all golfers who are the favorites to hoist the Claret Jug this week when the 145th Open Championship is played at Royal Troon. Three of the four made my “Watch List” for both the Masters in April and last month’s U.S. Open. But this time, I’m avoiding all of them. Let’s be honest – they’re all beyond good enough to win in Scotland, but something about links golf in the UK leads me to picking 5 other, worthy, golfers.

1. Sergio Garcia

Whenever you talk about picking winners in an overseas tournament, one question always comes up in my head: Is Sergio playing? And if he is, then I tend to like his chances. There’s something about Sergio’s personality and his tumultuous relationship with the American media that reminds me of another Euro who always struggled to win in the U.S. in his prime – Colin Montgomerie. But go to Europe and it all changes. Not to mention, Sergio has 9 top 10s at The Open in 19 tries. He’s also been a bridesmaid twice. We’ve seen two golfers sans major titles go out and get the first two of this season. Why not make it a third?

2. Adam Scott

The Aussie is a proven major champion, but has been quiet in the big tournaments in the last couple years. His scorching start to the Florida swing this Spring seems ages ago. But going across the pond might just be the perfect fix for Scott – 5 top 10s at the Open and 4 straight. That’s a level of consistency few can match.

3. Louis Oosthuizen

When Oosthuizen broke through and ran away with the Claret Jug in 2010 at St. Andrews, it caught everyone off-guard. Not just the fact that the South African won at the Old Course, but the manner in which he did was ultra-impressive – 7 shots clear of runner up, Lee Westwood. On the contrary, a strong performance at Royal Troon this month would not be surprising to many at all. In fact, it’s become almost expected to see Oosty near the top of the leaderboard in majors – especially at The Open. He posted back-to-back runner-up performances at last year’s U.S. Open and Open Championship. His iron play and accuracy off the tee should keep him in the hunt for a second Claret Jug.

4. Francesco Molinari

A name most will not think to shout when asked to predict this year’s Open Champion Golfer. The 33-year old Italian plays mostly on the European Tour so he should feel fairly comfortable at Troon. In his last four Opens, Molinari has made the cut – his best performance coming in 2013 when he was T9. His game might be rounding into form, with a runner-up finish at the French Open on the July 4th weekend. The Open always brings out the best in a golfer that is off most spectators’ radar. Molinari might be that guy in ’16.

5. Lee Westwood

Lee Westwood should be a major champion by this time in his career. But for whatever reason, he can’t 174239223seem to seal the deal. I think his game suits Augusta nicely, but if he’s going to ever win a big one, I think it’s going to come at The Open. His comfort level is higher in Europe, he’s practically playing in his backyard wherever The Open venue is for that particular year, and his game fits links golf. He doesn’t have to overpower Royal Troon – just avoid major trouble off the tee and put approach shots within shouting distance of the pin. Westwood’s stats this season have dropped a bit, but he hasn’t finished outside the top-15 in his last 6 starts dating back to the Masters, except for a T32 at Oakmont. His history at The Open speaks well for him also – 4 top-5s (2 of which have come in the past 6 years).

Other Notables to watch:

Rickie Fowler – Few players have been more underwhelming than Fowler. Many expected a breakthrough in the majors for the Oklahoma State Cowboy. But maybe all the disappointment of 2016 will be forgotten with a great performance at Royal Troon. Fowler tied for 2nd in 2014 at Royal Liverpool. If he can rekindle some of that magic, the man in orange will be scoring deep into the red come Sunday.

Ernie Els – A two-time Open Champion – and nearly 3, only narrowly missing out in 2004 in a playoff to Todd Hamilton, the Big Easy has not been the model of great golf in 2016. The 4-time Major winner had missed 4 consecutive cuts leading up to a 5th place finish at the Quicken Loans at Congressional last month. There’s little evidence supporting that a weekend at Troon will end well for the South African; but he’s a veteran who plays well at The Open.

Phil Mickelson – Lefty finished one shot out of the Hamilton-Els playoff in 2004. He was 3 shots clear of the rest of the field. So Phil knows how to play this course. Oh, and he’s already got one Claret Jug in his trophy case.

 

Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed — @brian22goodwin.

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Our Past Does Not Have to be Our Present

These are our scars, as Americans.

Our wounds remain from hundreds of years’ worth of racial inequities and inherent beliefs that blackCmzgvqhVMAAckrT people are “less than” or “unequal” or “not as good”. These are not wounds that can heal like other wounds. Time does not heal them. Nothing truly can. We can work to make that our past and not our present or our future. But we must work harder at it.

What we have witnessed this week in a 36-hour span has been heart-wrenching. Just when the world looks as bleak as it could ever look, more shots ring out.

This is not the media. This is not pro-forearms against the anti-gun groups. This is not political, left versus right. This is race. This is a day and age where social media has given people a voice and a sense of empowerment and the ability to attract attention and grow the courage to act on maniacal, obscene fantasies.

Times like these are trying, sad, and tragic. But can these senseless, horrific murders force us, as a society, to reflect on what we can do to move us to a better place?

As sports fans, we instinctively look to the world of sports to bring us together – to forget color and race. But we do not need to forget it, we should not forget who we are, what we are. Instead, we should embrace our differences while celebrating what we do share: the human element. We care, we love, we feel.

Likely, we will see these displays of humanity and unity in sporting events over the weekend and possibly for weeks ahead. But I hope the displays we don’t see are the ones that are the most meaningful. We can make an impact on how others feel during this time of grieving.

Our scars will not heal. But every day is another opportunity to put this ugliness behind us.

Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed — @brian22goodwin.

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