March 30, 2006


2006 MLB PREVIEW WITH JOHNNY VEGAS;

Well Spring is here, and that means that the start of the baseball is upon us. In just a few days we get to kick the season off with the White Sox and Indians on Sunday Night Baseball.

I can’t wait to be pounding beers hoping that the Yankees lose every night, watching my beloved Cubbies put pitcher after pitcher on the DL, and taking in the occasional Tigers game, which is usually meaningless by the all-star break……the next 7 months will be great, and here are some of my thoughts on the 2006 off season, as well as my predictions for the year to come.

2006 OFF SEASON WINNERS:

Boston Red Sox: They lost Johnny Damon to the hated Yankees, but the Bo Sox have done quite a bit of improving in the off season. The addition of Josh Beckett will help the staff move in the right direction. He has a great arm, and brings World Series experience to the mound. When he is healthy, he is one of the top young pitchers in the game. Coco Crisp not only has one of the best names in baseball, but he is almost as strong as Damon as an every day center fielder. He won’t have quite the offensive numbers, but he is just as good on the bases, and is stronger defensively. I also love the addition of Willie Mo Pena; he will help both offensively and defensively in a platoon role with Trot Nixon.

Chicago White Sox: Not only did they resign Paul Konerko, but they brought him help. Jim Thome is a health risk, but a strong left handed bat in that already solid lineup is scary. If Konerko has protection all year, his numbers will increase big time. Javier Vasquez is another strong arm to add to the rotation, and the additions of Rob Mackowiak and Alex Cintron will add depth to an already strong defensive team.

New York Mets: Well the Mets are at it again adding more depth to their squad. They lost Mike Cameron, but at least they got Xavier Nady back for him. They also added a young arm in Jorge Julio, one of the greatest closers in the game with Billy Wagner, and an absolute stud in Carlos Delgado. They have improved all over the field. They also have two of the most promising prospects in baseball with Anderson Hernandez (who should start the year on the big league roster) and Lastings Milledge, who will be a late season call up.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Is there anyone that added more POTENTIAL to their team than the Dodgers? Brett Tomko will help the rotation start to gel more this season, and Danny Baez will add depth to an already (when healthy) strong bullpen. If Nomar Garciaparra can play more games than Mia Hamm does this year I will be shocked, but he is a good bat to help protect Jeff Kent. Rafael Furcal is one of the best defensive players out there, and his speed will add a new feature to the Dodgers offensive attack in ’06. Bill Mueller brings playoff experience, as well as a bat that has won an A.L. batting title. All and all I think the Dodgers had the strongest off season in baseball.

Here is a quick look at my predictions in both leagues:

AMERICAN LEAGUE AWARD WINNERS:

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER:
David Ortiz – Boston Red Sox
Sleeper Pick: Travis Hafner – Cleveland Indians

CY YOUNG:
Rich Harden – Oakland Athletics
Sleeper Pick: Kevin Millwood – Texas Rangers

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR:
Francisco Liriano – Minnesota Twins
Sleeper Pick: Justin Verlander – Detroit Tigers

ROLAIDS RELIEF MAN:
Huston Street – Oakland Athletics
Sleeper Pick: BJ Ryan – Toronto Blue Jays

NATIONAL LEAGUE AWARD WINNERS

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER:
Albert Pujols – St. Louis Cardinals
Sleeper Pick: Miguel Cabrera – Florida Marlins

CY YOUNG:
Carlos Zambrano – Chicago Cubs
Sleeper Pick: Brandon Webb – Arizona Diamondbacks

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR:
Jeremy Hermedia – Florida Marlins
Sleeper Pick: Prince Fielder – Milwaukee Brewers

ROLAIDS RELIEF MAN:
Billy Wagner – New York Mets
Sleeper Pick: Derek Turnbow – Milwaukee Brewers

AMERICAN LEAGUE PLAYOFFS:

AL East Winner: Boston Red Sox

AL Central Winner: Cleveland Indians

AL West Winner: Oakland Athletics

Wild Card Winner: New York Yankees

Don’t be surprised if they're hanging around in September: Texas Rangers

ALDS: Red Sox over Indians in 4
ALDS: Yankees over Athletics in 5
ALCS: Red Sox over Yankees in 6

NATIONAL LEAGUE PLAYOFFS:

NL East Winner: New York Mets

NL Central Winner: St. Louis Cardinals

NL West Winner: San Diego Padres

Wild Card Winner: Chicago Cubs

Don't be surprised if they're hanging around in September: Milwaukee Brewers

NLDS: Mets over Cubs in 5
NLDS: Cardinals over Padres in 4
NLCS: Mets over Cardinals in 6

And your 2006 World Series Champions are……………………………………..

New York Mets over the Boston Red Sox in 6

I’m outta here for now, be back soon.

Johnny Vegas

March 10, 2006

Friday Rundown

At 12:01am on Saturday (it's new, new, new scheduled time) you'll see the beginning of several NFL players switching teams. Before that happens, you'll probably see Daunte Culpepper traded to the Raiders, Dolphins, or Jets with Oakland being the most likely option. Daunte is done in Minnesota since the sex boat won't be setting sail this year and because Brad Johnson made him look like Andre Ware. The fact that he's injured with an uncertain future and wants out is only secondary. If Daunte goes to Oakland, look for Drew Brees to be signed by the Dolphins. With his recent shoulder injury hampering his throwing ability he'll be just what Miami needs, another half-assed quarterback. Look for Patrick Ramsey to be traded the Jets since I guess Washington seems content to not have a reasonable backup for Mark Brunell, an aging QB (13 seasons) that had his highest career numbers in years. They should sign a QB since Brunell isn't getting any younger. While the subject is old guys, the Cardinals let Josh McCown go and are going to ride Kurt "I'm always injured for half the season" Warner into the ground. John Kitna should be available, he would be a great option for any team in need of a QB as would McCown.

Terrell Owens...Denver, Dallas, Denver, Dallas...he will definitely help out either team if he keeps his mouth shut, which he should if he ever wants to play in the NFL again. He will make Jake Plummer or Drew Bledsoe the fantasy football stud that Kerry Collins was supposed to be with Randy Moss. Antwaan Randle El will be the most sought after WR and I expect him to leave Pittsburgh. Isaac Bruce might bring veteran experience to a new team, the Panthers, Lions, Texans, Buccaneers, and Redskins are all currently interested in signing him.

Edgerrin James may be affordable to the Colts now, but he should definitely shop around first. If Edge leaves Indy, that could be Jamal Lewis' next stop and he'll come at a discount for the terrible season he had last year. Michael Bennett will most likely go to Arizona seeing that he almost went there in a trade this past season.

Other news:
Tony Parker had a big game yesterday with a game-high 29 points, too bad it took an injured Steve Nash and Leandro Barbosa (Nash's backup) to do it. I'm sure Eva Longoria was celebrating somewhere doing her annoying #1 thing with her finger and that stupid smile on her face. #1 what? Is she talking about herself, the Spurs #1 bandwagoner?

With the release of the Barry "Is that a baseball question? Is that a baseball question? That's not a baseball question last time I checked, you want to talk baseball?" Bonds "steroids edition" of Sports Illustrated (March 13) and it's excerpt from the upcoming book, Game of Shadows, Bud Selig has stated that he will read the book and then decide if he will suspend Bonds...I hope he's already reading an advance copy and that he's a fast reader.

If you haven't seen Failure to Launch yet (and why would you?), not only are you missing out on wasting 2 years of your life and $7, but also an added "bonus". In the movie starring Matthew McConaughey and Sarah Jessica Parker, whose face looks like football leather, there's a scene in which former NFL star Terry Bradshaw's bare ass shows up on the big screen. Most of America can't stand the look or sound of him so who would want to see that? I guess he wanted to show off his favorite body part, he's made a career as an NFL commentator speaking out of it.

March 06, 2006


TOURNEY TALK:
JOHNNY VEGAS’ ROAD TO THE FINAL 4


Well, that time of year is back! Golf season is upon us, green beer is right around the corner, and the NCAA tournament is coming up faster than Dale Earnhardt on a wall.

Here is my breakdown on my top 10 contenders for the national title. Bottom to top, here is who will be there in April and why.

10. Michigan State – Well, the Spartans were my preseason pick to win the national title, but they have done everything to disappoint me up to this point. With possibly the most athletic combo in the country in Maurice Ager and Shannon Brown, the Spartans can run with just about anyone out there. The dilemma up to this point has been that the traditional tough on the boards team that Tom Izzo has put on the floor each year looks soft. Paul Davis pouts after every foul he commits, every rebound he doesn’t get, and every free throw he bricks. He needs to step up his game big time in the next few weeks for this team to have a prayer at a sweet 16 spot, let alone a final four bid.

Verdict: Even though they look to have their lowest seed in recent memory coming into the tournament, these Spartans are lead by one of the greatest coaches in the game today. Izzo will have his boys ready and MSU will make noise when they put on their dancing shoes. This team is worthy of some consideration when filling out those office brackets we all know and love.

9. Tennessee – This time of year the only Tennessee hoops anyone is talking about (not that they should be) is the Lady Vols’. Well since Pat Summit makes me want to throw up in my mouth, it is refreshing to me that the men’s team has showed some promise this year. Now even though they have lost 3 of their last 5, they Volunteers have some big wins this year including defeating Florida twice, and winning @ Texas.

Verdict:
Tennessee is dependant on the shooting of sophomore guard Chris Lofton, (8-2 when Lofton scores 20 points) if he is cold from the field this team doesn’t have a chance. I think he’ll play well early, but fade fast when they travel into the sweet 16. I wouldn’t be shocked if Tennessee makes an early exit, but I still like them to move into the 3rd round of the tourney.

8. West Virginia – Last years Cinderella story is back with some tourney experience, and a don’t lose attitude. While they have some characters on their team including the ugliest man in division one, and a guy that looks like an overgrown hobbit from Lord of the Rings, these guys can play. Kevin Pittsnogle can flat out shoot the rock, and Mike Gansey is as clutch as they come. I love the heart that they come to the court with every game, and they will not be intimidated by anyone.

Verdict:
While they are a team that any trailer parker can crack a Natural Light to, I don’t think that they can make it beyond the elite 8. I won’t be completely shocked to see this group in the final 4, but don't ride them too deep in your brackets.

7. North Carolina – Let me start out by saying that if Roy Williams doesn’t deserve to win the coach of the year award, then Bobby Knight doesn’t need anger management, and Eddie Sutton should quit AA. This guy has proven that he is in a class of his own with the clip board. I had written off UNC at the beginning of the year after they lost their top 7 scorers, but this team has proven that they are the real deal. They are 10-1 in their last 11 games, including a huge win @ Cameron on Saturday night and I think they will continue to roll going into the tournament.

Verdict:
Tyler Hansbrough has led this team as a freshman, and he will continue to do so throughout the tournament. If UNC can make it to the ACC championship game they will earn themselves a probable 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. I think this team can make a run into the elite 8, and depending on their bracket don’t be shy about putting this group of kids into the Final 4.

6. Memphis – The Tigers are a surprise to a lot of people, but I have loved this team all year long. They are one of the most athletic teams since the UNLV team of the early 90’s. This is the most entertaining team to watch, and I think that you will be seeing quite a bit of them in March and April. Although they lost a tough one to UAB this year, their performance early in the season @ Duke, along with defeating UCLA & Gonzaga has sold me on the Tigers.

Verdict:
The only down side to Memphis is their weak conference schedule. They haven’t had a true test since the beginning of the New Year when they were handled easily by Texas. I think that John Calipari will be able to get his guys ready for the dance however, and I look for the Tigers to turn some heads. Rodney Carney wants to go out on top, and what better way then for him to make a trip back home to Indianapolis for the final 4.

5. Texas – The Longhorns took care of business in the Rose Bowl, and now they hope their basketball team can have the same good fortune. This team has been on a roller coaster ride all year long, and I think that the car is on it’s way back to the top of the tracks just in time for March Madness.

Verdict: Since January 1st Texas has played 5 ranked teams, and they are 4-1 in those games. In my opinion LaMarcus Aldridge is the player most ready for the NBA game, and P.J. Tucker can be absolutely dominant inside. This team has all the makings of a final 4 team, and they aren’t a bad pick if your looking for someone different than what all the Duke slappies will be picking when they turn in their brackets.

4. Duke Unlike Dickie V, I am not on the J.J. Reddick bandwagon, I don’t wear blue and white knee pads, and I actually root for them to lose. Nothing makes me happier than a disappointed Cameron Indoor Arena, but I have to give them their do. Sheldon Williams is solid, and there aren’t many out there that can D him up. Reddick is one of the best shooters there is, and when he is on this team doesn’t lose often.

Verdict:
Greg Paulus can not make freshman mistakes in the tournament! If he plays well the Dukies will have a good chance to be in Indianapolis. For this team to beat the other top dogs, Melchionni and Reddick must stay hot from behind the arc, and Sheldon Williams needs to stay out of foul trouble. Coach K will be ready as always, and the Blue Devils will make their run in the tournament.

3. Illinois – They were there last year, and they will be there again this year. The Illini have 2 solid seniors that got a taste last season in St. Louis, and they will lead them into Indy. Dee Brown is a talent that is unmatched at the point, he demonstrates tremendous leadership, and doesn’t turn the ball over. They ended the year on a very positive note winning in Minnesota as well as dominating Michigan State @ The Breslin Center, which doesn’t happen often.

Verdict: This is a team that will surprise many come tourney time. James Augustine can go up and defend the top big men in the country, and the guy has good range. If they can sustain their defense for 40 minutes, they may make a return to the national title game.

2. Villanova – This group has the best back court in the nation. They are deep, they can shoot, they are good with the rock, and they flat out know how to win. I love Faye and Allen; I don’t think that there is a better 1 – 2 combination out there. Nova’s defense can be suspect at times, but this team will be in Indianapolis fighting it out for the title.

Verdict:
The only reason that I don’t have Villanova as my #1 going into the tournament is the fact I don’t see them being to go in and win a battle on the boards. They will be able to score with everyone, but a team that runs a 4 guard set will always have trouble trying to out rebound teams. Mark them in your brackets as far as you want, you won’t be disappointed.

1. UCONN – They have been in the top 5 the entire year, and they will prove why during the NCAA tournament. The Huskies have it all. They have the coaching, the guard play, great inside players, and excellent ball movement. They have 6 guys that could start on any team in the country, and that depth is unmatched in this years’ field. Jim Calhoun has been a winner since he came to Connecticut, and he will have his team ready to go when the tournament rolls around.

Verdict: Gay, Anderson, Boone, Williams, Brown, Armstrong…..there are no holes in this team. They will out rebound you, out score you, and out think you on the court. Bottom line is UCONN will be cutting down the nets in Indianapolis on April 3rd.

I know that you expected to see the likes of Gonzaga (led by a 70’s porn star look alike in Adam Morrison), George Washington (who may be the most over rated team in the country), Ohio State (not even a top 3 big ten team), and Boston College (couldn’t beat a top 10 team if their lives depended on it) but I have reasons for the 10 teams I chose. You may not agree with me, but I suggest you listen to me if you want to break your bookies like they were Rick Tocchet and you were Janet Jones.


Be back soon – Johnny Vegas

NFL CBA BS

Everything looked bad, then it looked good, then really bad, and now there's a possibility it will turn out good...all you have to do is wait to see some of your favorite players be officially released quicker than a Detroit autoworker as teams try to get under the cap. However, unlike the autoworker, most of them will find new jobs fairly quickly since there are several teams in desperate need of talent. If the cap doesn't get the $10 million expected increase, the work may be temporary and at lower pay, like the autoworker's next job.

If you've watched any sports show in the past week, you know what's going on with the NFL (if not, read about it here). Getting rid of the salary cap is possibly the worst thing the NFL can let happen. Without a cap, teams like the Cowboys, Giants, Redskins, and Seahawks will all be the NFL's version of the Yankees...but they'll actually be winning championships. Meanwhile, the rest of the teams will consider their season a success if they do as "good" as the 2005 Texans. If you're from any of the 4 aforementioned cities (or currently on their bandwagon) you may think it's a good thing because your team will be a winner, but with no real competition, what's the point? Are you really going to be satisfied when your teams of all-stars roll over a practice squad equivalent roster while nobody watches? I hope you said no.

If you said yes, I guess you should just ditch all your loyalty (or what's remaining) and jump on the Seattle bandwagon right now in advance for when every top player can be bought by Paul Allen's (the 7th richest man in the world -Forbes) Seahawks. It will all come down to what the "rich" owners are willing to spend for a winning team and will be just like the MLB where talent can be bought with a pile of money. All the Johnny Damons of the NFL will flock to Seattle faster than Kellen Winslow Jr. on a motorcycle. Once the cap is gone, I doubt it will be back, which is interesting since the salary cap is what has made the NFL the most popular sport in the country.

So now we're waiting for Wednesday/Thursday to see what is going to happen. That's another thing, who set the time at "12:01" anyways? Do we have to take everyone back to elementary school and teach them how to tell time all over again? 11:59:59..12:00 that's when we get the switch from PM to AM (and AM to PM). I know, who cares, right? How about just for some common sense? If you want it to be Thursday, just say Thursday.

Kirby Puckett 1961-2006

A hall of famer and one of the most popular players of all time, RSBS sends their condolences.