NHL Power Rankings, Week 2

The week is only two weeks old, but some trends are already showing up.  On to the rankings . . .

 

#31 Detroit Red Wings (0-4-2, -16, LW:  29)

The Red Wings are on their way to a fourth consecutive season out of the playoffs after 26 straight seasons with at least one round of postseason hockey.  They’ve given up 20 goals in their last three games and they have a goal differential of -14 (not including shootout losses as a -1 goal) after just six games.  It’s going a long winter in Hockeytown, U.S.A.

 

#30 New York Rangers (1-4-0, -6, LW:  31)

#29 Vegas Golden Knights (2-4-0, -8, LW:  27)

#28 Florida Panthers (0-2-1, -3, LW:  19)

#27 Arizona Coyotes (1-3-0, -6, LW:  29)

#26 Minnesota Wild (1-2-2, -6, LW:  26)

#25 St. Louis Blues (1-2-2, -5, LW:  28)

#24 San Jose Sharks (2-3-1, -2, LW:  18)

#23 Los Angeles Kings (2-3-1, -4, LW:  21)

#22 Philadelphia Flyers (2-3-0, -4, LW:  25)

#21 Edmonton Oilers (1-2-0, -5, LW:  24)

#20 Washington Capitals (2-2-1, +1, LW:  14)

#19 New York Islanders (2-2-0, +1, LW:  12)

#18 Chicago Blackhawks (3-0-2, +1, LW:  14)

#17 Ottawa Senators (3-2-1, +2, LW:  22)

#16 Dallas Stars (3-2-0, +3, LW:  4)

#15 Pittsburgh Penguins (2-1-1, -2, LW:  20)

Phil Kessel was the fifth overall pick by the Bruins in the 2006 draft out of the University of Minnesota.  After three productive seasons in Boston (126 points) he was traded to Toronto for three draft picks (Tyler Seguin was the first one in 2010).  He racked up 394 points in six season.  Then before the 2015-16 season he was again traded, this time to the Penguins involving a bunch more picks.  He has racked up another 228 points for the Penguins, contributing to both Stanley Cup championships.  Malkin and Crosby get the headlines, but Kessel just keeps on chugging, and last Thursday recorded his sixth career hat trick against the Golden Knights.  The Penguins should be around for at least the second round again, and one of the biggest reasons will be Kessel’s contributions.

 

#14 Tampa Bay Lightning (2-1-0, +4, LW:  17)

#13 Columbus Blue Jackets (3-2-0, -3, LW:  13)

#12 Calgary Flames (3-2-0, +2, LW:  5)

#11 Montreal Canadiens (3-1-1, +5, LW:  16)

#10 Buffalo Sabres (3-2-0, -2, LW:  9)

#9 Colorado Avalanche (3-1-1, +7, LW:  5)

#8 Winnipeg Jets (3-2-0, 0, LW:  8)

The Jets had an amazing run last season and seem poised for another one this season.  The scary thing is that they might have an even brighter future.  Since relocating from Atlanta in 2011 they have been one of the most successful teams in the draft and have more young talent coming through the AHL pipeline.  It still seems unlikely with so many quality teams in the league, but an All-Canada Stanley Cup Final between the Leafs and Jets.  Hey!  You heard it here first!!!

 

#7 Vancouver Canucks (3-2-0, +2, LW:  23)

#6 Anaheim Ducks (4-1-1, +3, LW:  2)

#5 Carolina Hurricanes (4-1-1, +5, LW:  1)

#4 New Jersey Devils (3-0-0, +10, LW:  5)

#3 Boston Bruins (4-1-0, +9, LW:  9)

After the defending Cup champs celebrated with a 7-0 win on opening night the Bruins have beaten their next four opponents by a combined score of 22-6.  They have gotten out to big starts, outscoring their opponents 8-3 in the first period.  Then they close out strong, outscoring opponents 9-4 in the third.  The East is loaded, with at least six teams you can make a strong case for winning the Cup.  Boston is one of those teams.

 

#2 Nashville Predators (5-1-0, +7, LW:  11)

#1 Toronto Maple Leafs (6-1-0, +10, LW:  3)

 

Today I want to propose a new way of awarding points in the standings.  I liked the old way of two points for a win and one for a tie, but then we had to screw it up and go with the shootout and award one point to teams that lose after regulation.  This has put a damper on the standings because wins don’t catch a team up as quickly as they should.  So I propose this system:

 

3 points for a regulation win

2 points for an OT/SO win

1 point for an OT/SO loss

0 points for a regulation loss.

 

Simply put, this puts an emphasis on winning in regulation, it allows teams to catch up with regulation wins, and it makes every game worth the same amount of points.  I know that it won’t go back to the old way, so why not improve it?  That’s my simple point for this week . . .

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NFL Power Rankings

Another week of mediocrity at best.  It’s another entry of the NFL Power Rankings.  All Rankings are relative to the current state of the league.

 

#32 Arizona Cardinals (1-5-0, -57, LW:  32)

#31 Buffalo Bills (2-4-0, -62, LW:  31)

#30 New York Giants (1-5-0, -45, LW:  25)

For all the talk about Eli Manning – because only the quarterback matters – nothing, and I mean NOTHING, has been said about the Giants defense.  Coming into their Thursday night debacle against the Eagles they ranked 24th in overall defensive DVOA, 22nd against the pass, and 25th against the run.  Last season they were also 24th overall, 19th against the pass and 26th against the run.  In 2016 they were 2nd overall, 4th against the pass and second against the run.  But in 2015 they were 30th overall, 28th against the pass and 21st against the run.  In 2014 they were 24th overall, 21st against the pass, 27th against the run.  Their records each season:

 

2018:  1-5-0

2017:  3-13-0

2016:  11-5-0

2015:  6-10-0

2014:  6-10-0

 

For those scoring at home that is 27-43-0 over the last five years.  And yes, Eli is the inspiration for the Eli stat because he has thrown three or more picks in a game 22 times in his career.  But do you know what else?  His completion percentage this season is easily the highest of his career, his yards per attempt is right in line with his career, as is his TD/Int ratio.  Saquon Barkley has been a nice addition to the offense, but if the defense continues to play as horribly as they have I’ll give you the combination of Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, John Unitas, Joe Montana, Sid Luckman, and Otto Graham and they would still be lucky to win 4 games this season.

 

#29 Indianapolis Colts (1-5-0, -28, LW:  24)

#28 Tennessee Titans (3-3-0, -20, LW:  17)

#27 Oakland Raiders (1-5-0, -66, LW:  30)

#26 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3-0, -32, LW:  27)

#25 San Francisco 49ers (1-5-0, -31, LW:  26)

#24 Denver Broncos (2-4-0, -34, LW:  28)

#23 Cleveland Browns (2-3-1, -23, LW:  18)

#22 Atlanta Falcons (2-4-0, -25, LW:  29)

#21 Miami Dolphins (4-2-0, -15, LW:  23)

#20 Jacksonville Jaguars (3-3-0, -17, LW:  7)

Please tell me again how the NFL doesn’t suck.  Three teams are tied for first at 3-3, all three stink, and taking up the rear is Capt. Andrew Luck, his mother, and the Colts at 1-5.  Houston is the epitomy of average.  They don’t blow teams out (wins by 3, 3 (both in overtime), and 7) and they don’t get blown out (losses by 7, 5, and 3).  They average 6.0 yards per play, they give up 5.5 yards per play.  They have lost to the defending conference champs, a team that is now 1-5 (and was 3-13 last year), and a team that made the wild card because the Browns were terrible last season.  They have beaten a playoff team from last year and two so-so teams.

 

Seriously, if not the Luck and Blake Bortles Facts Twitter accounts, this division would have nothing to offer.  Well, really they are all the NFL really has to offer.

 

#19 Cincinnati Bengals (4-2-0, +16, LW:  9)

#18 Detroit Lions (2-3-0, -12, LW:  20)

Matthew Stafford’s cap hit this season is 14.5% of the Lions total salary cap.  That hit goes up to nearly 17% by 2020.  By taking up that much cap space the Lions are inequipped to acquire other players that could contribute and instead are banking on untested rookies, many if not all of which will not pan out.  This is one of the many reasons quarterbacks are overrated.  Because people believe you can’t win without a franchise quarterback teams:

 

  1. Spend high draft picks on them,
  2. Overpay them if they don’t competely stink, or
  3. Overpay a veteran who once looked someone competent in someone’s eyes, and
  4. Take considerable cap hits instead of looking for other ways to make their team successful

 

Detroit isn’t the only team in this situation and others will follow suit.  There’s a reason the Patriots were 11-5 the one year Brady was out hurt.

 

#17 Houston Texans (3-3-0, -2, LW:  19)

#16 Dallas Cowboys (3-3-0, +20, LW:  22)

#15 New York Jets (3-3-0, +26, LW:  11)

#14 Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2-1, +17, LW:  12)

#13 Green Bay Packers (3-2-1, +4, LW:  13)

#12 Seattle Seahawks (3-3-0, +26, LW:  16)

#11 Minnesota Vikings (3-2-1, -8, LW:  21)

#10 Washington Redskins (3-2-0, +2, LW:  15)

#9 Kansas City Chiefs (5-1-0, +43, LW:  5)

#8 Carolina Panthers (3-2-0, +7, LW:  8)

#7 Philadelphia Eagles (3-3-0, +20, LW:  14)

#6 New England Patriots (4-2-0, +28, LW:  6)

#5 Los Angeles Chargers (4-2-0, +31, LW:  10)

Not that anyone in the City of Angels cares, but they just might have two playoff teams to watch come January.  It’s not that the Chargers are really any good, it’s that if you look at their remaining schedule, they have Tennessee (who stinks), at Seattle (pretty good), at Oakland (stinks), Denver (stinks), Arizona (really stinks), at Pittsburgh (decent), Cincinnati (not bad), at Kansas City (good), Baltimore (decent), and at Denver (stinks).

 

The Chargers at 10-6 would look pretty good for a playoff spot at that point, maybe even 11-5.  Ah, mediocrity.

 

#4 Chicago Bears (3-2-0, +43, LW:  3)

#3 New Orleans Saints (4-1-0, +40, LW:  4)

#2 Los Angeles Rams (6-0-0, +78, LW:  1)

#1 Baltimore Ravens (4-2-0, +76, LW:  2)

 

This week I wanted to add a couple of things to the TBF Stats Glossary.  As you know, we really don’t track the common stats here, we track other ones more for enjoyment than anything else.  Back in Week 1 of these rankings I introduced five QB Stats:  The Eli, the Derek, the Gabbert, the Geno, and the Dalton.  These are two add-ons to the last two because no two Geno’s or Dalton’s are alike.  These stats are the Geno Score and the Dalton Score.  The Geno Score is based on just how bad the Eli, Derek, and Gabbert games were.  Lets’s take two from last season, both from the Browns (for the sake of making the Dalton Score somewhat more useable here)  In Week 2 DeShone Kizer was 15 of 31 for 182 yards, no TD’s and 3 picks, giving him a QB Rating of 27.3 and a QBR of 3.7.  To calculate the Geno Score  We simply add up how much worse they are to the baselines, so for Kizer:

 

3 Int’s minus 3 (baseline for an Eli) equals 0

Plus (39.6 (baseline for a Derek) minus 27.3) equals 12.6

Plus (10.0 (baseline for a Gabbert*) minus 3.7)

Equals 18.9

 

*-Important note:  the TBF crew has decided that a Gabbert is now a Peterman in honor of Nathan Peterman.  Congratulations, Nathan, you’re plywood plaque is en route as we speak!

 

Now, in Week 6 Kevin Hogan was 20 of 37 for 140 yards, 1 TD and 3 picks.  His Geno Score:

 

3 minus 3 equals 0

Plus (39.6 minus 38.1) equals 1.5

Plus (10.0 minus 8.6)

Equals 2.9

 

This scale really goes from 0.0 to infinity, but realistically it is probably around 52.6, since QBR and QB Rating bottom out at zero and I only remember Ty Detmer throwing 7 interceptions in a single game*.  Now keeping that in mind, the Dalton Score – a Dalton being two Geno’s in a single season – is getting the mean between them.  This is nothing more than the Bill James Power/Speed Number, except that instead of homeruns and stolen bases, we are using the two Geno Scores:

 

18.9 times 2.9 times 2 equals 107.88

Divided by (18.9 plus 2.9)

Equals 4.96

 

*-the record is 8 by Jim Hardy of the then-Chicago Cardinals on September 24, 1950 against the Eagles.  Detmer’s feat was matched by five others, most recent one to him (his was two Sunday’s after 9/11 against the Browns) by Steve DeBerg against the 49ers in 1986.  You just aren’t allowed to make mistakes like you used to.

 

Feel free to use these stats at your leisure as we do here.

 

NHL Power Rankings

The NHL Regular season is underway!!! With that we have the first edition of the Talk Back Fans NHL Power Rankings!!!  Obviously way too early to have anything definitive to say, but that’s part of the fun, right?

 

#31 New York Rangers (0-3-0, -12, LW:  N/A)

#30 Arizona Coyotes (0-2-0, -8, LW:  N/A)

#29 St. Louis Blues (0-1-1, -10, LW:  N/A)

#28 Vegas Golden Knights (1-2-0, -8, LW:  N/A)

Teams with unexpected levels of success are usually suseptible to let down seasons.  No expansion team has ever had the Golden Knights level of success immediately.  I wouldn’t expect a 70-point season, but I don’t think 100 is reasonable, either.

 

#27 Detroit Red Wings (0-1-1, -6, LW:  N/A)

#26 San Jose Sharks (1-2-0, -12, LW:  N/A)

#25 Minnesota Wild (0-1-1, -8, LW:  N/A)

#24 Edmonton Oilers (0-1-0, -6, LW:  N/A)

Last season the Oilers gave up the fifth most goals in the league.  Despite having the league’s leading scorer in Connor McDavid they were a -33 in goal differential, which was good enough to place sixth in the Pacific Division.  Add in a team save percentage that was 27th in the league and you can see why the Oilers struggled after such a successful 2016-17 campaign.  So the fact that the season opened with the Oilers giving up five goals on 27 shots to the Devils might not be the most encouraging sign for the fans in Edmonton.

 

#23 Ottawa Senators (1-1-1, -4, LW:  N/A)

#22 Pittsburgh Penguins (1-1-0, -6, LW:  N/A)

#21 Columbus Blue Jackets (1-1-0, -2, LW:  N/A)

Kind of a make-or-break season for these Blue Jackets.  After consecutive playoff appearances, this team now has to take that next step.  Last year they had the Capitals on the ropes before Washington won four straight en route to their first championship.  The Bue Jackets have yet to make it out of the first round, and John Tortorella has a habit of wearing out his welcome at around this time in his tenure.  It would be great for the city if the Blue Jackets can provide them with some postseason success.

 

#20 Florida Panthers (0-0-1, -2, LW:  N/A)

#19 Calgary Flames (1-1-0, 0, LW:  N/A)

#18 Philadelphia Flyers (1-1-0, 0, LW:  N/A)

#17 Vancouver Canucks (1-1-0, 0, LW:  N/A)

#16 Winnipeg Jets (1-1-0, 0, LW:  N/A)

#15 Toronto Maple Leafs (2-1-0, 0, LW:  N/A)

If any team is going to break the drought of no Canadian teams winning the Cup since 1993 it should be this Maple Leafs team.  The addition of John Tavaras from the Islanders solidifies the offense (he already has four goals in three games).  The East is tough, but they could make the breakthrough.

 

#14 Los Angeles Kings (1-0-1, +2, LW:  N/A)

#13 Tampa Bay Lightning (1-0-0, +2, LW:  N/A)

#12 Montreal Canadiens (1-0-1, +6, LW:  N/A)

#11 Chicago Blackhawks (2-0-1, +2, LW:  N/A)

#10 Washington Capitals (1-0-1, +12, LW:  N/A)

#9 New York Islanders (2-1-0, +8, LW:  N/A)

#8 Boston Bruins (2-1-0, 0, LW:  N/A)

#7 Buffalo Sabres (2-1-0, 0, LW:  N/A)

Jack Eichel is one of the best young stars in the league, yet he get zero publicity because the Sabres have been awful.  It would really be fantastic if they can start winning and get the likes of him and McDavid out in the public eye.

 

#6 New Jersey Devils (1-0-0, +6, LW:  N/A)

#5 Carolina Hurricanes (2-0-1, +8, LW:  N/A)

#4 Nashville Predators (2-0-0, +4, LW:  N/A)

#3 Anaheim Ducks (2-0-0, +8, LW:  N/A)

#2 Colorado Avalanche (2-0-0, +12, LW:  N/A)

#1 Dallas Stars (2-0-0, +14, LW:  N/A)

 

It’s early but a couple of stats that will be brought up here throughout the season:

 

Net Power Play Percentage

My own stat, the formula:

 

(Power Play Goals divided by Power Play Opportunities) plus (1 minus (Power Play Goals allowed divided by Times Short Handed) plus (Short Handed Goals Scored divided by Times Short Handed) minus (Short Handed Goals Allowed divided by Power Play Opportunities).

 

The league average is 1.000, so you have a good gauge of where a team ranks in this category.

 

PDO

Don’t ask me what PDO stands for, but what it is is simply Shooting Percentage plus Save Percentage.  Again the league average is 1.000, but there is another factor to this.  Teams that have a time where they are below the league average tend to climb back to average, while teams that are above tend to regress.  It’s an interesting stat to watch during the season.

 

Corsi

Corsi is essentially shots, not just on goal, but blocked shots and complete misses.  One way of measuring possession is by shots.  You will occasionally hear from the advanced analytics guys about “Relative Corsi”, which is the shots for divided by total shots.

 

Zone Starts

Also known as Zone Entries, it measures actually controlling the puck into the offensive zone as opposed to dump and chase hockey.

 

There will be more for sure, but I wanted to get a few out before just blurting them out.  Until next week . . .

 

Week 5 NFL Power Rankings

Another week of bad under the guise of competitiveness . . .

 

#32 Arizona Cardinals (1-4-0, -47, LW:  32)

#31 Buffalo Bills (2-3-0, -55, LW:  31)

#30 Oakland Raiders (1-4-0, -42, LW:  26)

#29 Atlanta Falcons (1-4-0, -30, LW:  19)

Coming into this week the Falcons ranked 23rd in DVOA via Football Outsiders (more on this in a bit).  Offensively they are seventh, but are 30th on the defensive side of the ball.  They have scored 90 points over the last three weeks, but have given up 121.  Quarterbacks don’t play defense and apparently neither does anyone else on the Falcons.

 

#28 Denver Broncos (2-3-0, -31, LW:  20)

#27 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2-0, -27, LW:  30)

#26 San Francisco 49ers (1-4-0, -28, LW:  29)

#25 New York Giants (1-4-0, -24, LW:  28)

#24 Indianapolis Colts (1-4-0, -20, LW:  18)

#23 Miami Dolphins (3-2-0, -18, LW:  21)

#22 Dallas Cowboys (2-3-0, -13, LW:  22)

#21 Minnesota Vikings (2-2-1, -18, LW:  27)

#20 Detroit Lions (2-3-0, -12, LW:  25)

#19 Houston Texans (2-3-0, -9, LW:  23)

#18 Cleveland Browns (2-2-1, +1, LW:  15)

#17 Tennessee Titans (3-2-0, +1, LW:  14)

#16 Seattle Seahawks (2-3-0, +2, LW:  13)

#15 Washington Redskins (2-2-0, -4, LW:  6)

#14 Philadelphia Eagles (2-3-0, -1, LW:  11)

#13 Green Bay Packers (2-2-1, +1, LW:  9)

#12 Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2-1, +10, LW:  24)

#11 New York Jets (2-3-0, +18, LW:  17)

#10 Los Angeles Chargers (3-2-0, +7, LW:  16)

#9 Cincinnati Bengals (4-1-0, +23, LW:  12)

#8 Carolina Panthers (3-1-0, +13, LW:  8)

#7 Jacksonville Jaguars (3-2-0, +16, LW:  4)

#6 New England Patriots (3-2-0, +25, LW:  10)

#5 Kansas City Chiefs (5-0-0, +46, LW:  5)

About time to give the two unbeatens some love.  The Chiefs are currently an offensive juggernaut, averaging 35.0 points per game.  They are averaging 4.2 yards per rush and 8.0 yards per pass attempt.  The defense leaves a little to be desired, but considering the AFC West isn’t any good they should have a pretty clear path to a bye in round one.

 

#4 New Orleans Saints (4-1-0, +40, LW:  7)

#3 Chicago Bears (3-1-0, +46, LW:  3)

#2 Baltimore Ravens (3-2-0, +55, LW:  2)

#1 Los Angeles Rams (5-0-0, +75, LW:  1)

This is the best team in the league, bar none.  Credit to coach Sean McVay for Sunday’s call on fourth and one.  They got it and they won the game when they did not have to give the ball back to the Seahawks.  It has been a long time coming, but more and more teams are going for it on fourth down.  In a league that lacks a lot of interesting play, this call is finally getting its due.

 

I mentioned DVOA earlier, and figured that I should explain it.  It stands for Defensive adjusted Value Over Average.  The stat was created by the brilliant minds at Football Outsiders who take every single play and associate a value with it.  It is based on expected points and win probability.  It is presented as a percent and the total value is added together.  It is:

 

(OffDVOA minus DefDVOA plus STDVOA)

 

Offense is on the positive side of DVOA, defense is negative.  So for this week, the Rams on DVOA:

 

42.6% offensive DVOA minus

-8.2% defensive DVOA plus

-1.1% special teams DVOA equals

49.7% total DVOA

 

Which is the best in the league.  The good thing is that it doesn’t value stupid things like 20-yard plays on second and 10 on your own 15 with 0:02 remaining in the half or Hail Mary interceptions at the half or kneel downs.  It is also factors in how well a team is playing at the time, not just the whole season.  So when I bring up these rankings, you now know what I’m talking about.

 

 

Week 4 NFL Power Rankings

Another week of mediocrity, bad decisions, bad officiating, and controversy.  And by bad decisions I’m also referring to my previous thoughts on my rankings system and made a modification.  Here are the Power Rankings . . .

 

#32 Arizona Cardinals (0-4-0, -57, LW:  32)

#31 Buffalo Bills (1-3-0, -56, LW:  31)

It’s way too early to determine what Josh Allen will be in Buffalo.  But that won’t stop anyone from doing that.  The biggest question was about his accuracy and the fact of the matter is that accuracy is not something you learn at the highest level.  He has 103 attempts and has a 53.4% completion rate to go with a 63.8 rating.  He may improve, but . . .

 

#30 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2-0, -27, LW:  11)

#29 San Francisco 49ers (1-3-0, -18, LW:  27)

#28 New York Giants (1-3-0, -22, LW:  18)

#27 Minnesota Vikings (1-2-1, -20, LW:  23)

#26 Oakland Raiders (1-3-0, -26, LW:  29)

#25 Detroit Lions (1-3-0, -20, LW:  24)

#24 Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2-1, -14, LW:  16)

#23 Houston Texans (1-3-0, -12, LW:  27)

#22 Dallas Cowboys (2-2-0, -10, LW:  26)

Is there a less inspiring team that draws more attention outside of Cleveland?  Even with their win over Detroit.  It’s still Detroit.  The Lions are awful.  Defensively and offensively they have no clue what they are doing.  In four games they are a -26 in differential between completions and rushes.  They are -2 in turnovers.

 

#21 Miami Dolphins (3-1-0, -8, LW:  5)

#20 Denver Broncos (2-2-0, -13, LW:  20)

#19 Atlanta Falcons (1-3-0, -6, LW:  21)

#18 Indianapolis Colts (1-3-0, -6, LW:  19)

#17 New York Jets (1-3-0, 0, LW:  6)

#16 Los Angeles Chargers (2-2-0, -9, LW:  22)

#15 Cleveland Browns (1-2-1, -2, LW:  14)

With 4:20 to go in the fourth quarter the Browns scored to take a 41-34 lead with the extra point pending.  I have ranted about this before and I will continue to.  This is a golden opportunity to take full control of the game.  By kicking the PAT for one point you:

 

  1. Keep the two point play for the opponent a viable option
  2. Keep the opponent just one possession away

 

For whatever reason people refuse to believe this is an issue.  But by going for two and getting it:

 

  1. It doesn’t matter if your opponent scores a touchdown and goes for two, because
  2. You make it a two possession game by getting it.

 

And if you have the seven point lead because you failed to get the two pointer, you put the decision making in the opponents’ hands.  This is low risk, high reward.

 

Everybody spends enough time blasting Hue Jackson while I bite my tongue (because I just don’t care about the Browns).  I’m not biting my tongue on this one.  He wins this week’s Gutless Coaching Award.  Why?  Because he did what every other coach with the exception of Belichick and Carroll would do.  He kicked.

 

Was the replay spot controversial?  Yes.  But you know what?  Good teams don’t put themselves in those spots.  Jackson still could’ve opted to go for it because if you can’t gain six inches you don’t deserve to win.  By taking a not so big chance earlier though, they could’ve avoided all of it.

 

#14 Tennessee Titans (3-1-0, +2, LW:  15)

Credit to Mike Vrable for actually having the balls to go for the win in overtime instead of playing for the tie.  Of course, the average football fan will agree with me solely because the Titans actually beat the defending Super Bowl champs.  The fact is that Vrabel did what Herm Edwards famously preached:  HE PLAYED TO WIN THE GAME!!!  He didn’t clam up for a field goal.  After watching two ties because teams clammed up, it was refreshing to watch a team coach like he really knows what it takes to win.  In a related story he’s a Belichick desciple.

 

#13 Seattle Seahawks (2-2-0, +4, LW:  17)

#12 Cincinnati Bengals (3-1-0, +13, LW:  12)

#11 Philadelphia Eagles (2-2-0, +1, LW:  10)

#10 New England Patriots (2-2-0, +11, LW:  30)

#9 Green Bay Packers (2-1-1, +9, LW:  25)

#8 Carolina Panthers (2-1-0, +11, LW:  8)

#7 New Orleans Saints (3-1-0, +16, LW:  13)

#6 Washington Redskins (2-1-0, +20, LW:  3)

#5 Kansas City Chiefs (4-0-0, +30, LW:  4)

#4 Jacksonville Jaguars (3-1-0, +32, LW:  9)

#3 Chicago Bears (3-1-0, +46, LW:  7)

#2 Baltimore Ravens (3-1-0, +58, LW:  2)

#1 Los Angeles Rams (4-0-0, +73, LW:  1)

 

Today I want to take a moment to reflect on a decision that was good but didn’t come to a victory.  Frank Reich decided to go for it on fourth and four, tied, and at their own 46-yard line on their first overtime possession.  The reason this was controversial was because the Colts failed to convert the first down, the Texans marched down and scored to win the game 37-34.  At the same time:

 

  1. People tend to love Andrew Luck (even despite of what I wrote last week)
  2. Reich “put the game in his quarterback’s hands”
  3. Punting the ball to Houston didn’t assure the Colts a win
  4. Keeping possession did more than option C did.

 

The biggest step everyone will make as a fan is if they get the thought process before just looking at the result.  Unfortunately most football fans don’t think that way.

 

The other thing to bring up is how one dimensional the league is.  It has clearly gone to a predominant passing league for quite some time now, but just for a quick example, 17 times last season a quarterback attempted 50 or more passes in a game, including the playoffs.  This season there are already 11 such times.

 

This was in motion for a while.  In 1978 teams averaged 26.4 pass attempts per game and completed 53% of them.  As the rules got looser and more protection was given to the quarterback attempts and percentages have increased.  By 1993 teams averaged 32.2 attempts (a 22% increase) and completed 58%.  By 2008 teams were over 60% completions percentage (61%) while attempting about the same amount of passes (32.3 per game).  This year they are at 36.4 attempts per game and are completing 65% of their passes.  In the meantime interceptions have remained the same while passing TD’s have increased by 50%.  As a result there are 44% more passing plays than rushing plays this season as opposed to about 74% as many passing plays as rushing plays 40 years ago.

 

Let’s see how this plays out . . .

 

Week 4 NFL Power Rankings

Another week of mediocrity, bad decisions, bad officiating, and controversy.  And by bad decisions I’m also referring to my previous thoughts on my rankings system and made a modification.  Here are the Power Rankings . . .

 

#32 Arizona Cardinals (0-4-0, -57, LW:  32)

#31 Buffalo Bills (1-3-0, -56, LW:  31)

It’s way too early to determine what Josh Allen will be in Buffalo.  But that won’t stop anyone from doing that.  The biggest question was about his accuracy and the fact of the matter is that accuracy is not something you learn at the highest level.  He has 103 attempts and has a 53.4% completion rate to go with a 63.8 rating.  He may improve, but . . .

 

#30 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2-0, -27, LW:  11)

#29 San Francisco 49ers (1-3-0, -18, LW:  27)

#28 New York Giants (1-3-0, -22, LW:  18)

#27 Minnesota Vikings (1-2-1, -20, LW:  23)

#26 Oakland Raiders (1-3-0, -26, LW:  29)

#25 Detroit Lions (1-3-0, -20, LW:  24)

#24 Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2-1, -14, LW:  16)

#23 Houston Texans (1-3-0, -12, LW:  27)

#22 Dallas Cowboys (2-2-0, -10, LW:  26)

Is there a less inspiring team that draws more attention outside of Cleveland?  Even with their win over Detroit.  It’s still Detroit.  The Lions are awful.  Defensively and offensively they have no clue what they are doing.  In four games they are a -26 in differential between completions and rushes.  They are -2 in turnovers.

 

#21 Miami Dolphins (3-1-0, -8, LW:  5)

#20 Denver Broncos (2-2-0, -13, LW:  20)

#19 Atlanta Falcons (1-3-0, -6, LW:  21)

#18 Indianapolis Colts (1-3-0, -6, LW:  19)

#17 New York Jets (1-3-0, 0, LW:  6)

#16 Los Angeles Chargers (2-2-0, -9, LW:  22)

#15 Cleveland Browns (1-2-1, -2, LW:  14)

With 4:20 to go in the fourth quarter the Browns scored to take a 41-34 lead with the extra point pending.  I have ranted about this before and I will continue to.  This is a golden opportunity to take full control of the game.  By kicking the PAT for one point you:

 

  1. Keep the two point play for the opponent a viable option
  2. Keep the opponent just one possession away

 

For whatever reason people refuse to believe this is an issue.  But by going for two and getting it:

 

  1. It doesn’t matter if your opponent scores a touchdown and goes for two, because
  2. You make it a two possession game by getting it.

 

And if you have the seven point lead because you failed to get the two pointer, you put the decision making in the opponents’ hands.  This is low risk, high reward.

 

Everybody spends enough time blasting Hue Jackson while I bite my tongue (because I just don’t care about the Browns).  I’m not biting my tongue on this one.  He wins this week’s Gutless Coaching Award.  Why?  Because he did what every other coach with the exception of Belichick and Carroll would do.  He kicked.

 

Was the replay spot controversial?  Yes.  But you know what?  Good teams don’t put themselves in those spots.  Jackson still could’ve opted to go for it because if you can’t gain six inches you don’t deserve to win.  By taking a not so big chance earlier though, they could’ve avoided all of it.

 

#14 Tennessee Titans (3-1-0, +2, LW:  15)

Credit to Mike Vrable for actually having the balls to go for the win in overtime instead of playing for the tie.  Of course, the average football fan will agree with me solely because the Titans actually beat the defending Super Bowl champs.  The fact is that Vrabel did what Herm Edwards famously preached:  HE PLAYED TO WIN THE GAME!!!  He didn’t clam up for a field goal.  After watching two ties because teams clammed up, it was refreshing to watch a team coach like he really knows what it takes to win.  In a related story he’s a Belichick desciple.

 

#13 Seattle Seahawks (2-2-0, +4, LW:  17)

#12 Cincinnati Bengals (3-1-0, +13, LW:  12)

#11 Philadelphia Eagles (2-2-0, +1, LW:  10)

#10 New England Patriots (2-2-0, +11, LW:  30)

#9 Green Bay Packers (2-1-1, +9, LW:  25)

#8 Carolina Panthers (2-1-0, +11, LW:  8)

#7 New Orleans Saints (3-1-0, +16, LW:  13)

#6 Washington Redskins (2-1-0, +20, LW:  3)

#5 Kansas City Chiefs (4-0-0, +30, LW:  4)

#4 Jacksonville Jaguars (3-1-0, +32, LW:  9)

#3 Chicago Bears (3-1-0, +46, LW:  7)

#2 Baltimore Ravens (3-1-0, +58, LW:  2)

#1 Los Angeles Rams (4-0-0, +73, LW:  1)

 

Today I want to take a moment to reflect on a decision that was good but didn’t come to a victory.  Frank Reich decided to go for it on fourth and four, tied, and at their own 46-yard line on their first overtime possession.  The reason this was controversial was because the Colts failed to convert the first down, the Texans marched down and scored to win the game 37-34.  At the same time:

 

  1. People tend to love Andrew Luck (even despite of what I wrote last week)
  2. Reich “put the game in his quarterback’s hands”
  3. Punting the ball to Houston didn’t assure the Colts a win
  4. Keeping possession did more than option C did.

 

The biggest step everyone will make as a fan is if they get the thought process before just looking at the result.  Unfortunately most football fans don’t think that way.

 

The other thing to bring up is how one dimensional the league is.  It has clearly gone to a predominant passing league for quite some time now, but just for a quick example, 17 times last season a quarterback attempted 50 or more passes in a game, including the playoffs.  This season there are already 11 such times.

 

This was in motion for a while.  In 1978 teams averaged 26.4 pass attempts per game and completed 53% of them.  As the rules got looser and more protection was given to the quarterback attempts and percentages have increased.  By 1993 teams averaged 32.2 attempts (a 22% increase) and completed 58%.  By 2008 teams were over 60% completions percentage (61%) while attempting about the same amount of passes (32.3 per game).  This year they are at 36.4 attempts per game and are completing 65% of their passes.  In the meantime interceptions have remained the same while passing TD’s have increased by 50%.  As a result there are 44% more passing plays than rushing plays this season as opposed to about 74% as many passing plays as rushing plays 40 years ago.

 

Let’s see how this plays out . . .

 

The Final MLB Power Rankings

Lucky for us baseball fans we got two one-game playoffs to determine who wins the NL Central and NL West titles.  An added reward for those of us who love the whole grind of the season.  As we look forward to the postseason, we do have to wait one more day.  Today we’re going to focus on the 10 playoff teams and why they can win it all and why they won’t.

 

#30 Baltimore Orioles (47-115, -270, LW:  30)

#29 Chicago White Sox (62-100, -192, LW:  28)

#28 Detroit Tigers (64-98, -166, LW:  25)

#27 Miami Marlins (63-98, -220, LW:  27)

#26 Cincinnati Reds (67-95, -123, LW:  25)

#25 San Francisco Giants (73-89, -96, LW:  22)

#24 Texas Rangers (67-95, -111, LW:  23)

#23 Kansas City Royals (58-104, -195, LW:  29)

#22 San Diego Padres (66-96, -150, LW:  24)

#21 Toronto Blue Jays (73-89, -123, LW:  21)

#20 Philadelphia Phillies (80-82, -51, LW:  17)

#19 Arizona Diamondbacks (82-80, +49, LW:  19)

#18 Los Angeles Angels (80-82, -1, LW:  20)

#17 New York Mets (77-85, -31, LW:  16)

#16 Minnesota Twins (78-84, -37, LW:  18)

#15 St. Louis Cardinals (88-74, +68, LW:  11)

#14 Pittsburgh Pirates (82-79, -1, LW:  13)

#13 Seattle Mariners (89-73, -34, LW:  14)

#12 Washington Nationals (82-80, +89, LW:  15)

#11 Atlanta Braves (90-72, +102, LW:  10)

Why they can win it all:  The lineup is fourth in the league in runs and features the probable Rookie of the Year in Ronald Acuna and potential MVP Freddie Freeman.  Their bullpen can bring the gas with six guys averaging over 9.0 K/9.

 

Why they can get knocked out right away:  Every pitcher in the rotation has a FIP at least a half a run higher than their ERA, suggestion potential regression.  They are young, so if there is anyone who goes by the “experience matters” case, you have it.

 

#10 Tampa Bay Rays (90-72, +70, LW:  5)

#9 Cleveland Indians (91-71, +170, LW:  9)

Why they can win it all:  What does everyone love about this team’s chances?  That starting rotation can matchup with every team in the league.  The offense averages five runs a game, good for third in the league.

 

Why they can get knocked out right away:  The bullpen, while vastly improved from earlier in the season, is still shaky.

 

#8 Chicago Cubs (95-67, +118, LW:  8)

Why they can win it all:  Their lineup, led by MVP candidate Javier Baez, could generate enough runs for them to make a run.  If you like creative managers, you’ve got one of the best.

 

Why they can get knocked out right away:  Have you looked at that rotation?  Ugh.

 

#7 Colorado Rockies (91-71, +38, LW:  12)

Why they can win it all:  They’re hot (they won nine of their last ten to reach game 163).  They’re left side of the infield is as good as anyone’s in baseball.

 

Why they can get knocked out right away:  They’ve outplayed their run differential by six games, getting to the back end of the bullpen can be a challenge, especially if the starters get knocked out before the sixth.

 

#6 Oakland Athletics (97-65, +139, LW:  4)

Why they can win it all:  The long ball.  Power is the name of the game and Oakland does it as well as anyone.

 

Why they can get knocked out right away:  A rag-tag starting rotation has been amazing, but can that get them through October?

 

#5 New York Yankees (100-62, +182, LW:  6)

Why they can win it all:  The long ball.  Power is the name of the game and Oakland does it as well as anyone.

 

Why they can get knocked out right away:  A rag-tag starting rotation has been amazing, but can that get them through October?

 

#4 Los Angeles Dodgers (91-71, +191, LW:  3)

Why they can win it all:  They have more talent than any other team in the league.  That is a good enough reason.

 

Why they can get knocked out right away:  There is still a gaping hole at second, and they have underachieved all year.  Just like the Rockies could hold on, the Dodgers could drop out.

 

#3 Milwaukee Brewers (95-67, +93, LW:  7)

Why they can win it all:  Like the Rockies, they also won nine of ten to get to this point.  Their bullpen can finish.  Yelich and Aguilar are red hot.  They’ve Harry Doyle!!

 

Why they can get knocked out right away:  An uninspiring starting rotation could wear done that bullpen.  Other than the two big names the others in the lineup don’t exactly fire you up, either.

 

#2 Boston Red Sox (108-54, +229, LW:  2)

Why they can win it all:  They have the best record in baseball.  They have four great hitters in the lineup.  They have a solid rotation.

 

Why they can get knocked out right away:  The wild card winner will not be an easy out.  They don’t seem to trust anyone in the eighth.  All of the other teams in the AL can match up with anyone.

 

#1 Houston Astros (103-59, +263, LW:  1)

Why they can win it all:  They’re the defending champs.

 

Why they can get knocked out right away:  They’re the defending champs.  You have to go back to 2000 to find the last champ to repeat.

 

OK, now my picks for MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, and Manager of the Year.

 

AL MVP:  Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox

NL MVP:  Christian Yelich, Milwaukee Brewers

AL CYA:  Blake Snell, Tampa Bay Rays

NL CYA:  Jacob DeGrom, New York Mets

AL ROY:  Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels

NL ROY:  Ronald Acuna, Atlanta Braves

AL MOY:  Kevin Cash, Tampa Bay Rays

NL MOY:  Craig Counsell, Milwaukee Brewers

 

For all, enjoy the games tomorrow and the entier postseason!!!

Week 3 NFL Power Rankings

Three weeks in and we still don’t know a damn thing . . .

#32 Arizona Cardinals (0-3-0, -54, LW:  31)

#31 Buffalo Bills (1-2-0, -34, LW:  32)

#30 Dallas Cowboys (1-2-0, -12, LW:  26)

#29 New England Patriots (1-2-0, -20, LW:  10)

#28 Houston Texans (0-3-0, -15, LW:  23)

#27 San Francisco 49ers (1-2-0, -16, LW:  28)

#26 Green Bay Packers (1-1-1, -13, LW:  18)

#25 Cincinnati Bengals (2-1-0, +12, LW:  19)

#24 Los Angeles Chargers (1-2-0, -11, LW:  17)

#23 Seattle Seahawks (1-2-0, +1, LW:  29)

#22 Indianapolis Colts (1-2-0, -3, LW:  14)

Since the Colts tanked to get Andrew Luck in the draft they have gone 29-34 against teams that are not in the AFC South.  They benefitted for the first three years of playing in the worst division in the league but now the division has caught up while Luck continues to be a turnver machine (90 turnovers between picks and fumbles, let alone the 20 fumbles he didn’t lose).  The teams that the Colts have beaten over that time combined for a record of 286-404-1 (.415) and only 16 of the teams they beat have had a winning record.  I’m not exactly banking on the Colts to do anything.

 

#21 Minnesota Vikings (1-1-1, -13, LW:  5)

#20 Atlanta Falcons (2-1-0, +4, LW:  12)

#19 Oakland Raiders (0-3-0, -29, LW:  24)

#18 Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1-1, -2, LW:  21)

Last week the Steelers were at home, put up 37 points and didn’t turn the ball over. Going into last week teams that did that at home were 386-0.  They are now 386-1.  Why?  Their pass defense is terrible.  Even with this week’s Eli from Ryan Fitzpatrick the once proud defense has allowed 10 TD passes in three games and the opponents have a QB rating of 97.2.  Also, they have allowed 35 fourth quarter points in three games.  Their offense is strong enough – despite the six turnovers in week one they still shredded the Browns defense for 470 yards – but what has been a trademark for the Steel City just isn’t there right now.

 

#17 Tennessee Titans (2-1-0, -1, LW:  27)

#16 Detroit Lions (1-2-0, -18, LW:  30)

#15 Denver Broncos (2-1-0, -9, LW:  4)

#14 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1-0, +11, LW:  8)

#13 New York Giants (1-2-0, -7, LW:  22)

#12 New York Jets (1-2-0, +19, LW:  3)

#11 Cleveland Browns (1-1-1, +1, LW:  13)

#10 Jacksonville Jaguars (2-1-0, +13, LW:  11)

Congratulations to the Jags and Titans for being an inspiration for my newest stat idea.  More on this in a bit, but thank you for reminding me that the league is still awful.

 

#9 New Orleans Saints (2-1-0, +1, LW:  25)

#8 Philadelphia Eagles (1-2-0, -5, LW:  20)

#7 Kansas City Chiefs (3-0-0, +26, LW:  16)

#6 Miami Dolphins (3-0-0, +23, LW:  6)

The Dolphins have completed 73.3% of their passes so far this season, an insane percentage even in today’s game.  As the schedule toughens up look for that percentage to drop and look for their 32.3% conversion on third down and their 44.4% touchdown percentage in the red zone to come back and bite them.

 

#5 Carolina Panthers (2-1-0, +11, LW:  7)

#4 Chicago Bears (2-1-0, +8, LW:  15)

#3 Washington Redskins (2-1-0, +20, LW:  2)

#2 Baltimore Ravens (2-1-0, +46, LW:  1)

#1 Los Angeles Rams (3-0-0, +66, LW:  9)

 

OK, this week’s fun stat in progress is called the Ugly Game Score, or “UGS”.  This is because so many games are ugly that we need rate them without actually having to watch them.  We are just in the starting process of this and I’ll improve this with more data, but the Ugly Game Score goes as such:

 

50 minus the total score

Plus the scoring difference

Plus the number of penalties

Plus (100 minus the total (completions plus rushes))

Plus turnovers

Plus non-lost fumbles

Plus incompletions

Equals your UGS

 

So let’s use yesterday’s Tennessee/Jacksonville eyesore:

 

50 minus 15 equals 35

Plus 3 equals 38

Plus 12 equals 50

Plus (100 minus 88) equals 62

Plus 1 equals 63

Plus 1 equals 64

Plus 21 equals 85

 

So the Ugly Game Score is 85.

 

I’m going to be tinkering with this over the week, but I feel this is a fun stupid stat to follow.  I love quantifying these types of things for organization purposes.  We do this stuff all the time.  It isn’t to end the debates.  It’s to organize the debates.  This isn’t the final edition, it is the beta version.  More to come . . .

 

The Rankings

One week to go before the second best postseason of them all (Sorry, I love baseball, but the Stanley Cup Playoffs are #1).  Here are the rankings.

#30 Baltimore Orioles (45-110, -256, LW:  30)

#29 Kansas City Royals (54-102, -198, LW:  25)

#28 Chicago White Sox (61-94, -166, LW:  28)

#27 Miami Marlins (62-93, -210, LW:  29)

#26 Cincinnati Reds (66-91, -115, LW:  20)

#25 Detroit Tigers (63-93, -142, LW:  27)

#24 Texas Rangers (66-89, -97, LW:  26)

The Rangers fired their manager this week.  I’m never one for anyone losing their jobs.  I hate it.  Especially because just a couple of years ago he pulled of a miracle, having the best record in the league despite a run differential of a .500 ball club.  Bannister is a good man and deserves better than being canned for leading an aging team led by incompetent management.

 

#23 San Diego Padres (62-93, -142, LW:  24)

#22 San Francisco Giants (72-84, -70, LW:  22)

#21 Toronto Blue Jays (71-85, -115, LW:  21)

#20 Minnesota Twins (72-83, -63, LW:  23)

Teams have a tendancy to regress to the mean.  For example, none of the three teams that won 100 games will win 100 this year and aren’t particularly close.  The Twins regressed because of a lack of major league talent.  Or at least not quite ready talent.  They have bright spots, but they unfortunately for baseball fans like me who enjoy pennant races, they were a disappointment.

 

#19 Los Angeles Angels (75-80, -3, LW:  15)

#18 Arizona Diamondbacks (79-76, +49, LW:  18)

#17 Philadelphia Phillies (78-77, -16, LW:  19)

#16 New York Mets (73-83, -28, LW:  14)

#15 Washington Nationals (78-78, +79, LW:  12)

#14 Seattle Mariners (85-70, -35, LW:  17)

#13 Pittsburgh Pirates (78-76, -9, LW:  16)

#12 Colorado Rockies (84-70, -1, LW:  11)

#11 Cleveland Indians (86-68, +155, LW:  10)

#10 St. Louis Cardinals (87-69, +87, LW:  13)

#9 Atlanta Braves (88-68, +101, LW:  9)

I have a little bit of Native American in my blood.  Not enough to earn me any casino earnings, but apparently enough that the Indians and Braves were the biggest influences of my life.  To be honest, I love what the Astros, Braves, Indians, Phillies, and Athletics have done.  Teams are built from the bottom, not through free agency.

 

#8 Chicago Cubs (91-64, +116, LW:  8)

#7 Milwaukee Brewers (89-67, +69, LW:  7)

#6 New York Yankees (95-60, +162, LW:  5)

#5 Los Angeles Dodgers (86-69, +159, LW:  6)

#4 Tampa Bay Rays (87-68, +85, LW:  4)

The Rays are 16-5 in the month of September, outscoring the opposition by 52 runs in the process.  They are hitting .292/.374/.500 with a 140 wRC+ and their biggest contributor has been someone I wrote about earlier this year:  Tommy Pham.  Pham was a deadline move by the Rays, who also received international bonus slot money for three guys who have had one more total at bat in the big leagues than I have.  Pham has posted a 219 wRC+ in the month for the Rays, who along with Kevin Kiermaier have provided a solid 1-2 punch.  For those that complain about how boring and long a baseball season can be, remember that all 162 games count, and those games that led them to being 54-53 through July 31 count just as much as the last two months do.

 

#3 Oakland Athletics (94-62, +132, LW:  3)

#2 Boston Red Sox (105-50, +217, LW:  2)

#1 Houston Astros (97-57, +255, LW:  1)

 

Next week I’ll have my MVP, Cy Young, Manager and Rookie of the Year Awards.  I’m doing some other research, but I’ll bore you with that in the offseason.

 

Enjoy, the Dodgers/Rockies race, baseball fans!!!  We get to enjoy races!!

The Leader of the Band

He was there for my first little league hit.  He was there for my first big day in little league (3-3, 2B, 3B, 6 RBI, SB, 10-9 win for us).  He was there when I went from a first year player to the starting lineup in football.  And he had a big smile every time.

 

That Saturday night in 2002 at Put-In-Bay.  We were at the Skyway, a bar that is no longer open.  He looked around, saw all of his boys there with him.  We did a round of Crown, he looked over at a friend of his, smiled and said, “The good Lord can take me now.  I’ve done everything I’ve ever wanted to do.”  And he had a big smile the whole time.

 

As I got older I failed to grow up.  As a result when all my friends and family were having kids, I was playing with all the kids.  Ages 2-4 have always been the funnest, because they bounce back repeatedly.  He would just sit there in his recliner and watch me toss around all the youngsters and laugh as scream “UNCLE DAN!!!!” as I walked in.  And he had a big smile every time.

 

The other day one of the nurses came into his room and told us that he was “going to miss his smile.  That was how I knew he was having a good day.”  That hit home.

 

Yeah, he would get mad – and boy, could he get mad.  He could be demanding.  He could be impatient.  But mostly, he could be proud of us.

 

He was proud of what we achieved academically.  He was proud of what we achieved athletically.  He was proud of what we accomplished professionally.  He was proud because he was our Dad.

 

Dad died this morning, a few months short of his 69th birthday.  He spent the last hours surrounded by family and some of the closest friends one could have.  His circle goes back to the sandbox age.  These guys and gals all grew up together, played together, drank together, celebrated together, mourned together for the better part of 65 years.  I’ve been lucky to be a part of that.  They all treat me as one of their own.

 

Because of him I’ve gotten to experience so much more than many could expect.  The stories?  I can’t even tell them all here.  But believe, mention his name and someone has a classic.  One promise I have always kept and will continue to is “Don’t tell your mother.”  That one will remain between him and me.

 

There are many people out there who have grown up without a father.  I’m lucky to have had him around for as long as I have.  His mom died when he was a teenager, his dad shortly before my second birthday.  I got to keep him around longer than that.  There are some who avoid even admitting they’ve had kids; my dad would be the first to tell you that he could never walk into a court of law and say that we weren’t his boys.  The judge wouldn’t even need a DNA test – just observing our behavior for about 10 minutes would be enough evidence.  And he was proud of that.

 

I’ll always remember the way never forgot what it was to be young.  I’ll remember the games – not just the ones I played, but the ones he took me to.  I’ll remember those Christmas Eve’s at Telich’s.  I’ll remember that Christmas Day with Uncle Pat and Aaron, and the three of us with Dad.  I’ll remember those New Year’s Eve parties when he would lead the charge down to our party right at midnight.  I’ll remember the way he embraced my friends as his own.

 

I can’t thank him enough, nor have I told him that I love him near enough.  My life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man.

 

And damn it.  I already miss that SOB.