Wednesday, February 18, 2009


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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Should Illinois be Ranked Higher?

By all accounts, this season has been a giant surprise for Illinois basketball. After a 13-18 record last season and the loss of two of their "best" players, hopes were not high for Illinois. Then they won 13 of their first 14 games and everyone thought this team might be decent.

Now we are certain that this is a good team, that can combine fantastic defense of the past few seasons with a more balanced, efficient offense. In fact, the Illini sit in second place in the Big Ten with 21 wins against 5 losses. This is great for Illinois fans; so great that they may be overlooking something fans are typically very wary of: a lack of respect.

A lot of the teams ahead of the Illini are very good, and it's hard to argue for one over the other, but a couple things stand out when you take a look at the top 25. First, Illinois has one more loss than Missouri, yet the Illini beat the Tigers earlier in the year at a neutral site by 16 points. Mizzou also stacks their resume with losses to Kansas State and Nebraska. Nebraska!

The second problem I have is that Michigan State is ranked so damn far ahead of the Illini. They're number five! Michigan State is a good team, probably the best in the Big Ten, but they aren't top five good if Illinois is out of the top 15. We're talking about a team that lost by 22 to Maryland, lost by...wait for it...35 to North Carolina in Detroit, and lost to Penn State and Northwestern at home. They beat two Big 12 teams that are both ranked below Missouri, and aside from the two terrible losses have been solid in conference play, including a six point win in East Lansing against the Illini.

Illinois' schedule is not as tough as Michigan State's according to RPI numbers, but a close loss to Clemson and a win over Missouri look as good as anything on MSU's out of conference resume.

I'm not saying Illinois is better than Michigan State, and I wouldn't dare put out my own version of the top 25 because somehow I've become a cynical college basketball fan that thinks there are only a few good teams in the country, but all of this information leads me to the conclusion that either Michigan State and Missouri are severely overrated, or because they have exceeded the "experts'" expectations, Illinois has become the victim of a blatant lack of respect.

Dwight Howard Plays Pranks On Other All-Stars and Rookies

Apparently this is 2:30 am the morning the night before the all-star game. Howard orders food for Duncan, knocks on Rose's door and runs away, orders more food for Chauncey, and then starts screwing around on a security guard's walkie talkie. Even if you don't think hes all that funny, you have to admit he seems like a fun guy. What a goofball. Here's the video (via NESW):

Lou Hints Soriano May Not Lead Off, Cubs Fans Thank Their Respective Gods

Lou Pinella seems like an intelligent man to most of us. Though he is a bit stubborn at times, he clearly has an understanding of the game of baseball. While not exactly a sabermetrician, he does not make retarded Dusty Baker-esque comments like "we don't want to draw a lot of walks, it clogs up the basepaths."

Even though he seems to understand baseball, there are still a few questionable moves he has made. Foremost among those was his insistence that Soriano lead off. It appears that he is finally starting to budge on that one:
Cubs manager Lou Piniella has stuck by Alfonso Soriano as his leadoff man the last two seasons but on Monday said he may drop the left fielder down in the order. Piniella said he talked to Soriano at the Cubs Convention about it. One reason for the switch is that Soriano doesn't run as much as he used to.
I will just ignore that comment about how he doesn't run like he used to (running is overrated and in fact can be detrimental to the team if the success rate is not very high, it is also almost completely irrelevant to the effectiveness of a leadoff man). While he is not a terrible leadoff man, his numbers are clearly not conducive to getting on base, the most important thing from a leadoff man. It's not that he is bad at it, he actually had a .344 OBP last season. The thing is that he has a high slugging percentage at .532 which makes him far better suited to the 3, 4, 5, or even 6 spot in the lineup. On top of that, there are 7 everyday players that have a higher OBP than Soriano: Johnson, Lee, Soto, Ramirez, Theriot, Fontenot and...the player everyone loves to hate...Fukudome! Yes all 7 of those players had better OBPs. I don't hate Soriano, but I do hate him in the leadoff spot. Hit him 5th or 6th and have a Theriot, Fontenot, Johnson, or, dare I say it, Kosuke, lead off. Make it happen Lou.

And yes, I'm just as excited as you that baseball is almost here.

The White Sox are Getting Creepy

President Barack Obama will be in the Phoenix area this week and a Chicago sports franchise has taken notice. Did the Bulls ask him to put in a good word to help get Amare to Chicago? Do the Cubs want him to hit in the leadoff spot? Come on now, we know this is going to be about those creepy Obama-stalking White Sox, who invited Obama to check out their new training facility. Hard to pass that up!

I get that Obama is a White Sox fan and that's fine; cool for the White Sox even. However, the Sox are starting to look like the girlfriend of the NBA star that just got into the league. She doesn't realize her man is busy now, and frankly isn't paying as much attention. I'm not saying Obama doesn't care about the White Sox anymore, that's his team, just quit inviting him everywhere.

First it was to come and throw out the first pitch on opening day. That's a great idea, but it seems like every couple of weeks I'm reading that the offer still stands. You don't say? Don't stop reminding. Now they want him to tour the new training facility. Unless Ozzie is interrogating suspected terrorists there, it's hard to imagine any interest.

A rant against the White Sox here might be a little premature, but with four or five announcements since the election, it might be time to scale back on the public invitations. It's nice to show him you're still interested, but left unchecked this ends with Kenny Williams calling the White House switchboard and hanging up before making a scene on a public tour.

**Update: Now the Cubs are getting in on the act. Seriously Chicago teams, enough President stalking, he doesn't want to visit your shitty winter homes!

Amare Stoudemire, Chris Bosh, And Other Big Men Rumored To Be On Their Way To Chicago

I'm having trouble keeping up with the rumors, so bear with me. By the time you read this it will probably be old news, but here is a roundup of the latest that is out there right now about the Bulls trade rumors:
  • Everyone knows about Amare Stoudemire. The deal that most news outlets are reporting has the Bulls shipping out Gooden's expiring deal, Tyrus Thomas, and another player, possibly Noah, Thabo or both. Picks would also be involved in this deal. This deal was a fact until about 24 hours ago, when people started reporting that the deal was basically dead, because the Suns were taking Amare off the table. That seems like something of a negotiating ploy by Kerr to try to get more for Stoudemire, but it's possible that the coaching switch has changed the mindset of the Phoenix management.

  • Just last night, a new wrinkle was thrown into a possible Amare deal. Apparently there is a three-way trade being discussed that would send Amare to Toronto, Bosh to Chicago, and a bevy of young players and picks to Phoenix. I'm not sure why Phoenix would be more interested in this than just the straight up swap with the Bulls. It seems like they would be getting back similar pieces. Maybe the Suns just want to help out their friend and old GM Colangelo?

  • Some sources are reporting that the Bulls have made an offer for either Chris Kaman or Marcus Camby. It is unclear whether this is a deal that might happen with the Amare deal or instead of the deal. It is also unknown what the Bulls were offering.

  • And of course, what would a report on Bulls trades be without the latest Sam Smith nonsense. I love this one. Apparently he believes the Jazz have interest in Kirk Hinrich and would send Boozer to the Bulls to get him. I know they are trying to get something in return for Boozer before his contract expires, but I just don't see how Hinrich pairs well with Deron.
I love all these deals. I think the Bosh one is most appealing, but I like Amare a lot. Pairing any of these big men with Rose for the foreseeable future sounds like a wet dream. Only two more days of the trade rumors, try to keep up.

Qualified Links

Monday, February 16, 2009

What Does Your Game Say--New Jordan Commercial

This new Michael Jordan commercial is amazing. Enjoy (via Docksquad):

Was Derrick Rose Even Trying?

It sure didn't look like it took much effort on Rose's part to win the skills challenge. He is on another level when it comes to speed, strength and athleticism. His dunk at the end is monstrous. Sign that kid up for the dunk contest!

Frazier Leads Illini to Second Straight Road Win

After being lauded as a defensive stopper, Chester Frazier slipped into the role of offensive hero for a little while Sunday, as Illinois held off Indiana in Bloomington for a 65-52 win.

Illinois streaked to a 21 point lead in the first half, but saw Indiana claw back to within six with just over six minutes remaining. While Illinois' offense slipped into a "road mode" that is easily identifiable by a lot of passing around the perimeter and taking buzzer-beaters against the shot clock, Chester Frazier was gearing up for a run. Frazier hit a huge three to put Illinois up nine, then made a layup with about two minutes left to make it a 12 point Illini advantage.

Frazier finished the game with nine points, seven rebounds and seven assists; not a bad offensive night for a defensive guy. Mike Davis had another double-double with 16 and 10, and Tisdale chipped in with 16 of his own.

Illinois moves to within a game and a half of Michigan State for the conference lead and the Spartans travel to Purdue on Tuesday. The Illini will play host to Penn State Wednesday, a game that looks tougher every time Penn State plays, then travel to Ohio State Sunday.

I know of no one that could have told me with a straight face that Illinois would be 21-5 right now. It has truly been a remarkable season for the Illini and the goal now has to be to build momentum and secure a top four seed for the NCAA tournament.

Chicago Baseball Teams Have Weak Farm Systems

For the Sox, who are in a rebuilding year, this might be very disturbing. For the Cubs, who are playing for right now, this is not as bad, but still unsettling. The Cubs and Sox have a combined 5 players in the Baseball Prospectus Top 100 Prospects. Combined. Ouch. Here's the list:
#28--Gordan Beckham (SS) Chicago White Sox
#34--Josh Vitters (3B) Chicago Cubs
#74--Aaron Poreda (LHP) Chicago White Sox
#85--Jeff Samardijza (RHP) Chicago Cubs
#99--Brandon Allen (1B) Chicago White Sox
I don't get how this works. Does Samardijza still count as a prospect? I guess he would need a full season in the Majors to be ineligible for this list. Without him the Cubs have only 1 player in the Top 100. One. They better win soon, because the future may not be so bright.

Paxson's Bulls Legacy

While it remains unclear when or even if Paxson will be stepping down as GM this year, it has become obvious that he will probably not be GM past this season. Many Chicagoans have turned on him in recent years, but I have maintained that he was given some difficult circumstances. That being said, he clearly hasn't been a great GM, I just don't believe he was the worst. Over at Luol's Dong, they took a look at what Paxson has done. I agree with their analysis for the most part, but let's take a look at all the major moves he made in chronological order and give my own little analysis.

  • Signed 38-year old Scottie Pippen (Summer 2003)--Much fanfare but lacked any real impact.

  • Traded Jalen Rose for Antonio Davis (Late 2003)--A good move, selfish players under the old guard had to be shipped out. Though Davis was not extremely effective on the court, he was a great locker room presence that would be necessary with all the young impressionable players Pax would later bring in.

  • Fired Bill Cartwright/Hired Scott Skiles (Late 2003/Early 2004)--This was one of his best moves as GM. The players were tuning out Cartwright and Skiles would lead the team to its first playoff berths in years.

  • 2004 Draft Class (Summer 2004)--This was hailed as one of the best drafts ever (though perhaps that verdict came in before all the facts had been heard). Gordon, Deng, Nocioni and Duhon all were drafted by Paxson, and all contributed to various degrees.

  • Traded Curry and Davis for Sweetney, Tim Thomas, and draft picks (Fall 2005)--The picks would later turn into Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah. This trade inspired the famous Bulls blog "Thank You Isaiah" for the perception that Pax had completely fleeced the Knicks GM.

  • Drafted Tyrus Thomas and Thabo Sefolosha (Summer 2006)--While LaMarcus Aldridge (whom Pax traded to get TT) has been very good offensively, TT is a better rebounder and defender and it is still unclear whether this was a good move. If Pax can somehow convince the Suns to take TT for Amare, then it will make the pick look like a huge success.

  • Signed Ben Wallace (Summer 2006)--Paxson's first (and only) big free agent signing was a complete bust. Wallace was over the hill and his contract continues to tax the team's salary cap situation to this day.

  • Didn't trade for Pau (Early 2007)--Was it really possible that this trade was even offered? And if so was it really Pax who wouldn't pull the trigger, or did Reinsdorf not allow Pax to deal Deng for Pau? No one will ever know.

  • Drafted Joakim Noah (Summer 2007)--A decent pick at the spot he was drafting. The second year player is showing signs of life, but it is too early to tell.

  • Fired Scott Skiles (Late 2007)--It had to be done. The team was completely tuning him out and the defensive intensity that had identified the Bulls under Skiles was all but gone.

  • Traded Ben Wallace For Larry Hughes and Drew Gooden (Early 2008)--This was a move that traded one team cancer (Wallace) for another (Hughes). The fact that he got Gooden out of the deal makes it a winner, but none of this would have been necessary if he hadn't flopped on the Wallace signing.

  • Drafted Derrick Rose (Summer 2008)--Though there was never much doubt that Pax would take Rose over Beasely, so far it appears it was a win-win situation, as both rookies are playing well. Although they are both good, Rose appears to have the potential to be one of the premiere point guards in the league.

  • Hired Vinny Del Negro (Summer 2008)--Really? Vinny Del Negro? I'm still shocked by this hire and Vinny has done nothing to prove he has what it takes to coach at this level (or any level). It's hard to blame this one on Pax though. He wanted to hire D'Antoni but Reinsdorf purposely tanked the deal leaving Pax scrambling for a 2nd or 3rd choice.
Beyond the Ben Wallace signing, the above resume doesn't look all that bad. The problems weren't the moves he made, but the ones he didn't. Whether Pau, Kobe, and KG were ever really on the table is irrelevant. The bottom line is that at some point in the last 5 years, with all the young talent Pax had assembled, there were numerous trades he could have made. He fell so in love with his picks that he was never able to pull the trigger on anything. He has one more big move to make (or not make) before the deadline this week. Will he finally come through and make a good move, or will he sit on his hands again? We'll find out soon enough.

Qualified Links

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Something to get you Ready for the Dunk Contest

Top ten slam dunk contest moments. This is a hell of a video, but obviously it's all up for interpretation. NQTC is giving best dunk contest show to Wilkins and Jordan in '88, while I've unilaterally decided that Vince in 2000 was the best set of dunks individually. A couple other moments that didn't make the cut that I liked were the Amare off the backboard, off Steve Nash's head, and the slam, as well as AI to the new AI from behind the hoop. Who tops it tonight?

Zambrano Spent Winter Starring In Cheap Porno

This picture is real. Apparently Z has decided to go the moustache route. I couldn't be more pleased. Bruce Miles confirms it, in case you still can't believe this awesomeness is true.

Hard Proof That Umpires Are Blind

Are you one of those people that gets frustrated with umpires when you're watching a Major League baseball game and starts yelling "Are you blind, ump?" Well the question may have been rhetorical at the time, but it appears there may be some proof that umpires really are blind. This picture comes from the LA Times Blog:

Yeah, that's braille. But let's not make a big deal out of this, ok? It's just so that all the blind umps make sure they go in the right doors.

Your Weekend Viewing Guide

With no great matchups in college basketball this weekend, it was shaping up to be a pretty slow couple days in sports. Until I remembered the NBA All-Star Game was this weekend! But then I remembered how much that sucked too. But then I remembered the dunk contest, three-point contest, and skills challenge! But then I remembered it's Valentine's Day so I won't get to watch them. Dammnit. At least I can think about that unreal 'Nique windmill as I'm wasting money on flowers and chocolate.


11:00 AM [NCAAB] Georgetown at Syracuse - ESPN
12:00 PM [NCAAB] UCLA at Arizona - CBS
12:30 PM [NCAAB] Minnesota at Penn St. - BTN
2:30 PM [NCAAB] Kansas at Kansas State - ABC
3:00 PM [NCAAB] Purdue at Iowa - BTN
3:00 PM [NCAAB] Cincinnati at Pitt - ESPN
4:00 PM [NCAAB] Memphis at S. Miss - CBS
*4:00 PM [NBA] Inside The NBA with H-O-R-S-E (G-E-I-C-O) - TNT
*7:00 PM [LIFE] Valentine's Day - Don't forget to set your DVR!
*7:00 PM [NBA] Dunk Contest, Skills Challenge, 3-Point Shootout - TNT
*7:30 PM [NHL] Stars at Blackhawks - WGN


*12:00 PM [NCAAB] Illinois at Indiana - CBS
1:00 PM [NCAAB] Michigan at Northwestern - BTN
7:00 PM [NBA] NBA Allstar Game - TNT

Friday, February 13, 2009

Chester Frazier Does Magic

It's true. It's so magical and mysterious you don't even know it's happening during the game. You can see Frazier the whole time and you can see the poor soul he is guarding, but it's all an illusion. It's like LOST without that feeling that it's being written by a drunk guy making up a story. Chester Frazier actually makes an opponent's best player disappear.

Joe College from the Daily Herald relayed a story in which he overheard NBA scouts talking about Illinois' senior point guard. Obviously, the scouts weren't raving about Frazier's scoring ability or his jump shot. They actually were all agreeing that the test for whether a player can make it in the NBA is if he can score on Chester Frazier.

Of late, Big Ten players aren't exactly making the cut, or passing the Chester Test. Here's a rundown of recent victims:

  • E'Twaun Moore (Purdue): 6 pts, 2-9 fg.
  • Trevon Hughes (Wisconsin): 0 pts, 0-7 fg and 13 pts, 5-13 fg.
  • Evan Turner (Ohio State): 4 pts, 2-7 fg.
  • Kalin Lucas (Mich. State): 10 pts, 3-13 fg.

All four of those guys would surprise no one if they made 1st team All Big Ten. Turner's four point night against Illinois was his only single-digit performance since the first game of the entire season, and he is averaging about 23 points per game in his five outings since Frazier shut him down.

We praise McCamey for his scoring, Meacham for his shooting, and Tisdale for his pure awesomeness, but Frazier is at best a "look who also played well" when it comes to a game recap. He gets his four rebounds and five assists, with at most one turnover and we give him the golf applause. It's time for more Frazier love. The guy is invaluable to Illinois.

And as Joe College points out, he absolutely deserves to be the Big Ten Defensive POY. If not, at least he has a future playing one-on-one at some NBA scouting combine; or, you know, that magic thing.

Obama Is A Bulls Fan Suckas

Fantasy Baseball Preview - 2B

Because of the shortage of time between now and opening day, we at NQTC decided to roll with a position by position preview as opposed to going team by team. 2B preview is up today - look for the 3B preview on Tuesday. And just so we're clear - this is not a list of the top seven guys at the position but rather seven guys I felt like writing about - that's just how I roll.

1. Chase Utley 2B Phillies - Far away the best offensive 2B in baseball, Utley is somewhat of a ? this season, as no one is really sure when he will be able to return from off-season hip surgery. The three time All Star has been saying that he might be ready by opening day if he is able to avoid any setbacks, but a late April/mid May return is more likely. Even with Utley missing a month of ABs, the case can be made for him to be the first 2B selected off the board - in 2007 when he played in only 132 games, he still put up a line of 104 R, 22 HR, 103 RBI, 9 SB, and a .332 AVG.

2. Ian Kinsler 2B Rangers - If Kinsler doesn't get hurt last season, there's a good chance he finishes the year in the top 10 overall players in fantasy. At 26, he's just now hitting his prime and as long he can stay healthy, should be one of a top performer in baseball for years to come. He plays in a great ballpark and is surrounded by plenty of mashers in the lineup, and while Texas most likely won't contend in the AL West due to their lack of pitching, they should have no issue scoring runs. The only knock on Kinsler is that he has never played more than 130 games in a season, and he also seemed to wear down after the All Star break. If he can find a way to stay healthy and stay productive throughout the season, a 30 HR 30 SB season is definitely possible.

3. Dustin Pedroia 2B Red Sox - The 2008 AL MVP is on the rise in fantasy drafts, and rightly so. With a line of 118 R, 17 HR, 83 RBI, 20 SB and a .326 average, Pedroia is without a doubt a five tool guy - providing significant production in all five standard categories. The only question being asked about Boston's newest sensation is whether or not he can do it again, and considering that his average draft position on is 25, most people seem to think that he can. It scares me a little to use a late 2nd/early 3rd round pick on someone coming off a career year, as I really don't think that there is any room for improvement in his numbers, but even if he comes close to matching his stat line from last season, he should still be able to back up his draft position.

4. Brandon Phillips 2B Reds - If there was any way for Phillips to boost his average back up to even the .276 mark he hit in 2006, you would be looking at a fantasy goldmine at 2B. His .262 lifetime average is the only thing holding Phillips back from being considered one of the top all around fantasy players in the game. Hitting cleanup, he doesn't score as many runs as other SB thieves do, but should provide you with about 25 HR and 80-85 RBI, and when you add the 25-30 SBs - that ain't half bad. Again, his average could hurt you, but as long as you're not expecting anything over .265, you shouldn't be disappointed with his overall production.

5. Dan Uggla 2B Marlins - Mr. Thuggla is a three category beast , averaging 100+ Runs, 30 HR and 90 RBI over the past three seasons. Like Phillips, Uggla's average will hurt you, but owners will have no problem looking past that as long as the NL All Star 2B continues to rake. Personally, I don't want anything to do with Uggla, as his 1st half/2nd half splits in 2008 were pretty horrendous, and unless you can send him off to another owner after the break, I would be quite concerned that a repeat performance might be in store.

6. Alexei Ramirez 2B White Sox - The Cuban Missile was a fantasy monster last season, putting up a line of 65 R, 21 HR, 77 RBI, 13 SB, and a .290 avg in only 136 games. However, when you take a closer look at his numbers, he only walked 18 times in 480 AB, meaning it would be almost impossible for him to maintain his .290 average unless he significantly improved his BB rate. Depending on where he bats in the lineup, Ramirez should be able to match all of his other numbers from 2008, but I wouldn't be looking for any large jumps in his HR or RBI totals.

7. Jose Lopez 2B Mariners - SLEEPER ALERT. Lopez had a phenomenal year at the plate last season, posting a line of 80 R, 17 HR, 89 RBI, 6 SB, and a .297 average. At 25, there's still plenty of room for improvement, and considering that Lopez isn't getting selected until the latter half of most drafts, he could be a major steal in 2009. In 2007, Lopez had a great first half of the season but struggled mightily after the All Star break. After finally putting together a productive full season in 2008 though, it looks like Lopez may be climbing the fantasy charts. If you miss out on the top 2B early in the draft, the once highly touted prospect should definitely be on your radar.

The Brewers Know How To Appeal To Their Fan Base: All-White Bobblehead Dolls

The Brewers have published their 2009 promotional schedule and over at Home Run Derby they decided to take a look at what the bobblehead giveaways. Let's just say the players that are being honored with bobbleheads share a common characteristic with every Brewers fan (including our very own Real Stadiums Have Roofs). They are all white. Even the sausage race contestant selected was Western European, they couldn't even give Chorizo a break? Ouch:

  • May 3 - Ryan Braun

  • May 31 - Trevor Hoffman

  • Jun 28 - Jason Kendall

  • Aug 30 - Jeff Suppan

  • Jul 26 - Bratwurst (Racing Sausage!!)

  • Sep 20 - Doug Melvin, Brewers GM

Really? Jeff Suppan? Jason Kendall? Don't they have Prince Fielder? And what kind of franchise gives a bobblehead doll for their GM? I don't know about you, but I haven't many kids walking around in Doug Melvin jerseys. Boom roasted.

Breaking News: John Paxson Resigns as GM of the Bulls

John Paxson will be resigning as the Bulls GM effective immediately following the Thursday trade deadline. Peter Vescey broke the news this morning. What does this mean for the Bulls? Amare trades? (Thanks to PK for the tip)

Obviously more on this story as it develops...
***UPDATE: Don't forget who reported the story. As pointed out by Matt at BBTH, Vescey has made some outrageous claims in the past that have proven untrue. That being said, it does make some sense and could very well be true.
***UPDATE on the UPDATE: Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who was quoted on Sports Center as saying:
"Pete Vecsey is not a credible enough source to comment on. Two weeks ago he had John being fired, now he has him resigning."

Illini Come Back to Beat Wildcats

It looked like another one of those road games for Illinois. They had played so well at home recently and it seemed like they just needed one road win to cement their place near the top of the Big Ten. Last night it was more bricklaying than cementing against Northwestern.

With 5:25 to go, the Illini trailed 57-43 marking their largest deficit of the entire game. About 5:22 later, Illinois had a one point lead marking their largest, and only, lead of the night. During those five-plus minutes the Illini must have blacked out, then imagined themselves back in Assembly Hall because it was solid offense and better defense that led the Illini back. Oh, and Trent Meacham.

Meacham had 12 of his 15 points in the last five minutes, including a three with about a minute to go, followed by a layup about 20 seconds later to make it a one point game. As if the offensive revolution wasn't enough for Meacham, he also caused a turnover on Northwestern's next possession, giving the Illini the ball with 14 seconds remaining.

Demetri McCamey was the hero when he banked in the game winner with 2.9 seconds left. Actually, he was heroic long before that, as he finished the night with a game-high 21 points. Chester Frazier was also great for the Illini, posting eight assists and seven rebounds, with only one turnover.

That makes it 20 wins for the Illini with six games left. They will be at Indiana Sunday, then back to Assembly Hall next Wednesday against Penn State. With Big Ten leader Michigan State playing Purdue and Wisconsin in their next two, this is a good chance for Illinois to gain some ground.

Qualified Links--Pitchers And Catchers Report Edition

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Black Rob's Soccer Talk

Our resident soccer expert, Black Rob, weighs in on last night's USA-Mexico soccer. Had I not received this story from him, I probably wouldn't have even known there was a game. Here it is:

Some quick thoughts from last night’s 2-0 USA victory over Mexico:

  1. This is probably the most important point of all. The USA is better than Mexico. If it wasn’t for Mexico’s ridiculous home field advantage, this would be beyond argument. I think it’s important for all US soccer fans to accept this, so that our reaction after a game like last night isn’t overwhelming joy, but contentment alongside even-handed criticism. We’re the best team in CONCACAF and should expect to beat Mexico now, home or away.
  2. That being said, Sven Goran Eriksson should be fired. Some of his decisions yesterday were questionable at best. Oswaldo Sanchez starting in the net (That 2nd goal was shit)? Pulling Dos Santos when he was clearly the most dangerous player Mexico had? I’d be shocked if he makes it to the weekend.
  3. Michael Bradley has pretty much locked up his position in the US midfield for the next 8 years. He gets better with every appearance and last night he was a beast. Two goals, but more impressive is how he dominated the midfield with his smarts and some hardass tackles. There were times when Mexico just looked over matched by him alone. Bravo.
  4. Donovan is our best player, like it or not, but Dempsey is our most creative. We’ve got to find a way to get him the ball in more dangerous positions. I would suggest the on-the-rise “Christmas Tree” formation, but this leads me to my next point…
  5. The outside back trials (left-back in particular) are still ongoing. Our outside backs are not skilled enough to play the “attacking wing-back “ role that is so popular these days. They’re not terrible, and I was admittedly impressed by Hejduk last night, but more often than not our attack would grind to a halt when the ball landed at the feet of Hejduk or Pearce. Why not just give our midfield/wingers more offensive freedom?
  6. All these criticisms aside, it was an overall good performance by the boys in white. We showed that we can build up play through the midfield, we’re still great from set pieces, and we have two solid centerbacks (one or two blunders aside). We’re good, I think people are still getting used to that. Oh, and lay off Brian Ching. Everyone clamors for Altidore to take over his starting role, but Ching plays the targetman role very well…better than Altidore does…for now.

Illinois at Northwestern Tonight

The Illini will travel to Evanston tonight to take on Northwestern. The Wildcats are 11-2 at home this year and the oddsmakers are predicting a close game.

I would say the Illini are playing their best basketball of the season coming off their beat-down of Purdue last week, but it hasn't been that kind of season for Illinois. Every time they look like they are playing great, they go out and shoot 28% on the road and lose. Since the beginning of January, the Illini have won every home game and lost every road game. That will need to change if the Illini hope to catch the Spartans for the Big Ten Championship.

Hustle and defense have been key in home wins for Illinois, two things that should translate well to road games. They're catching the Wildcats at the right time though, as Northwestern will be looking to end a four game losing streak* that has included mostly blowouts.

The key for Illinois tonight will be to control the boards and keep Kevin Coble under wraps. In Northwestern's upset wins it has been Coble who has led the charge.

The game starts at 8:00 PM and it's on ESPN2.

*It's bogus fact day on NQTC. I suspect I was thinking of a three game home losing streak to Illinois, but who the hell knows.

Jim Hendry Got Fleeced By Milton Bradley (UPDATE: Or Maybe He Didn't)

NQTC reader Ethan pointed out to me this morning that perhaps the Bradley signing was a bit premature in light of the recent contracts that have been given out. In the last week, Adam Dunn signed for 2 years and $10 million dollars, while Abreu signed for 1 year and $5 million dollars. Early in the free agent period, however, Hendry signed Bradley to a 3 year deal for $30 million dollars!! Is he that much better than those other two, or did Hendry just misjudge the market? It seems pretty apparent that he did.

Looking at the career numbers of the 3 outfielders, they are very similar in terms of production:

Adam Dunn--- AVG: .247 OBP: .381 SLG: .518
Bobby Abreu--- AVG: .300 OBP: .405 SLG: .498
Milton Bradley--- AVG: .280 OBP: .370 SLG: .457

If anything, those players have far better career numbers than Bradley. That doesn't even take injuries or age into account either. Abreu is 34, but that hardly matters in terms of his contract since it is only 1 year and not a long-term commitment. Adam Dunn is actually 29, a year younger than Bradley at 30. Both Dunn and Abreu have been considerably healthier during their careers than the fragile Bradley as well.

I'm not trying to say that Bradley will be bad or that he was a bad acquisition. It just seems that with all the salary jockeying the Cubs have been doing, this deal to Bradley is unnecessarily expensive. Hendry clearly misjudged the market for free agent outfielders. It is easy to say that in hindsight, the market was way lower than Hendry had thought. But looking at all the factors, there were a bunch of decent quality outfielders available and not a lot of teams out there looking. Is the difference between Bradley's actual contract and what the market would have afforded him today what handcuffed Hendry on the Peavy deal? We will never know, but right now it looks like our ne'er do wrong GM may have made a bad miscalculation.

***UPDATE: A few things have been brought to my attention in the last couple hours since making this post. Thanks to NQTC reader Gavin, who pointed out a few things in the comments and a few things to me directly. Looks like I was wrong about Hendry being fleeced:
Phillies signed Raul Ibanez - 3 years, $31.5 million on 12/19/08.

Tampa Bay singed Pat Burrell - 2 years, $16 million on 01/08/09.

The Cubs signed Bradley officially on 01/27/09. So it's not as if they went completely out of the range for outfielder's this offseason. It doesn't appear that there were that many high-level OF's out there this off-season but once these guys were signed before Bradley, I'm surprised the Cubs didn't try to play Bradley, Dunn and Abreu off each other to at least make Bradley think they could go elsewhere to get a left handed bat.
Also, it appears that the Dunn deal was actually for 2 years and $20 million dollars. This is what I get for doubting Hendry.

It's nice to have a Backup

It hasn't been the ideal situation in net for the Hawks this season. Don't get me wrong, things are going fine, you just don't want to be paying two goaltenders like they're starters is all. I guess it's not such a bad thing though when one of those high paid goalies gets hurt. That's what happened toward the end of the Hawks game last night against Atlanta when Nikolai Khabibulin suffered an undisclosed injury.

I was just about to write a post about how Khabibulin has turned into the every day starter, and for good reason. It's not clear yet how serious the injury is, but Khabibulin is considered day-to-day. Chicago has called up Antti Niemi from Rockford to fill in as Huet's backup for a while.

Niemi will be up tomorrow night when the Hawks conclude their eight game road trip in St. Louis. Huet will start and should be pretty rested for the extra responsibilities. Khabibulin had started four of the last five games, including the last three.

Huet and the Blackhawks still have a lot of work to do without Khabibulin even though the road trip is ending. Five of the next seven are still away from the United Center. Without the Huet signing though, this stretch would be a hell of a lot scarier. Maybe with Toews and Sharp scoring last night the stars will get back to putting the puck in the net.

Whoa! No One Told Me They Don't Call Traveling in The NBA!?

What makes the NBA so great is that so many athletic amazing things can be done within the rules of the game. This video has nothing to do with any of that. Apparently Corey Maggette, a well-liked and selfless player (ha!), traveled 6 times in one play in a Warriors-Hawks game a few weeks ago. The NBA, where referees swallowing their whistles happens. Here is the video via Truehoop:

Gotta love the "blatant frustration foul" at the end.

NCAA Wants to be Less Fun

It's that time of the year again: NCAA Rules Committee time. On the docket this year, among other things, is a suggestion to crack down on celebrations. A proposal floated by Oregon's Mike Bellotti would enforce celebrations by individuals before they score from the spot of the foul, taking away points if they do in fact get in the end zone.

Normally, rule changes take place after an outcry against a rule during the season. In this case, Bellotti wants to enforce and expand a rule that actually came under fire during the season. When Washington's Jake Locker scored what looked to be the game-tying touchdown and flipped the ball in celebration, the Huskies were penalized and ended up missing the extra point. There are so many problems with this rule that I have to start with a reason it makes sense.

To some extent it makes sense not to allow a touchdown when someone celebrates by taunting or high stepping before they get in the end zone. After all, the play isn't over when the penalty takes place. It's the only offensive penalty that takes place during the play that allows a touchdown to stand that I can think of.

Still, it's ridiculous. You're really going to take points away for celebrations? If a ref makes a mistake the team will lose a touchdown instead of having to kick a longer extra point or kicking off from their own 20?

Another problem is the potential game changing nature of this rule. When do most of the excessive celebrations take place? That's right, the end of the game in close games. So a kid gets caught up in the moment and dives into the end zone and now he cost his team the game. Please no, NCAA.

Wait, Mariotti Didn't Disable Comments On His Fanhouse Column? Sweet.

I managed to forget Jay Mariotti existed, to the point of completely forgetting to put him on my "People I Hate" list. Unfortunately he is still writing and StevieY directed my attention to his latest post. After clicking the link, I immediately went to see if comments were still enabled. After reading the comments on his first post, I assumed they would be disabled. To my surprise delight, they were not. As a precursor to these great comments, his story was some nonsense about how Obama has to take a harder stance against steroids or else Mariotti will start crying or something. Here's the comments that made me laugh the hardest: said...
Stop being so self-righteous and acting as though your life is crumbling right before you because A-Rod or Bonds took steroids. You sound like you go to sleep a night, crying on your pillow because some athlete wanted to gain an edge. Honestly, I wish there was a steroid that would enable you to write a good column for a change.

Mariotti, you are SUCH a loser!!! Ronnie "woo woo" Wickers is more qualified to cover baseball than you!!!

chilco said...

koos458 said...
Mariotti is a utterly useless piece of self-promoting crap.

jonathan said...
You couldn't make it as a journalist and your blogging days should be numbered too. All you ever write is nonsense.
Feel free to post your own comments on his story. Be careful though, I think he survives on hair gel and hate mail.

The NBA: Where John Paxson Being A Retarded GM Happens

This little satire of the Where Amazing Happens commercials was made for the Bulls over a year ago. I posted it a few months ago, but it still holds true to this day. As the deadline approaches, we'll see if we can add "Where Not Getting Amare Happens" to the list. Don't watch this if you a) like John Paxson; or b) being reminded of how shitty he has been pisses you off.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Movin' On Up

NQTC can now be found at a brand new address: We're still part of Blogger, but now we have our own URL minus the ".blogspot" and you can find us there (here?). For the life of me I can't figure out how the Internet works, but Stormin' Norman took a course from Al Gore or something and got us situated.

If you love typing the word blogspot, don't worry. You can still get to NQTC from the old address. We also have new email addresses that you can send your hate mail to. No more sending us your glamour shots though, okay real stadiums have roofs?

If you think the new address means better content, think again. It's still going to be a steady diet of whatever the hell we do now. I guess this is also a good time to say thanks for reading. We're having a lot of fun running this show and as long as you guys hang around we'll continue writing.

It's February, that means Brett Favre must be Retiring

Who wants Favre now? After one season with the Jets, Brett Favre has retired again, informing the Jets today that he would not return.

Favre, in an email to ESPN's Ed Werder said that he feels okay that he is ending his career with the Jets and not the Packers. I'm sure he's okay with the money the Jets gave him to play one season, too. Plus, what's he doing emailing Ed Werder about a Jets story? Where's Rachel Nichols? Favre to the Cowboys?

Who knows where Favre goes from here. It obviously wouldn't shock anyone if he came back again, but I'm not sure a whole lot of people really care. Maybe he'll just focus on his acting career for those Wrangler commercials. You know, the one where he leads that guy a little too far so he has to dive in the mud to make the catch. What a dick.

Anyway, there's your obligatory Favre retirement post. You'll have to wait until next year for another.

Fantasy Baseball Preview - 1B

Because of the shortage of time between now and opening day, we at NQTC decided to roll with a position by position preview as opposed to going team by team. Hope you enjoy, and please - no more Rich Hill/Felix Pie jokes....

1B preview is up first. Just so you know, this is not a list of the top seven guys at the position but rather seven guys I felt like writing about. Look for the 2B preview on Friday....

1. Albert Pujols 1B Cardinals - What can I tell you about the St. Louis 1B that you don't already know. He is flat out the best offensive 1B in baseball - the guy has never scored less than 99 runs, hit less than 32 HR, drove in less than 103 RBI, and hit lower than .314 in a season. Unlike last year where there was some speculation that he would be shutdown mid season because of his elbow, Pujols will be completely healthy come opening day after having off season surgery to resolve the issue. If you want to nitpick, the only knock on El Hombre is the lack of support surrounding him in the lineup, but people have been saying that for years and it's clearly never impacted his numbers.

2. Ryan Howard 1B Philies - The former MVP has averaged over 50 HRs the past three seasons, and there is no reason to believe he won't continue that trend in 2009. He has also led the majors in RBI two out of the past three seasons, and in 2007 when he finished 4th, he had 136 - not too shabby at all. Howard's draft position varies somewhat depending on your draft strategy and league type. In roto leagues, I personally would not take him until the latter half of the 1st round/early 2nd round as you don't want to target someone who is going to literally kill you in a category (avg). In H2H leagues though, he could be considered a top 5 pick.

3. Miguel Cabrera 1B Tigers - After getting off to a horrible start in his first season with Detorit, Big Mig was still able to put up a line of 85 R, 37 HR, 127 RBI, and a .292 average thanks to a monster 2nd half. Seems like the four time all star has been around forever, but he's actually only 25, and as sick as it is, his best years are surely ahead of him. He put up career highs in HR and RBI last season, and it would not be surprising to see these totals increase again in 2009. Cabrera is without a doubt a first round pick this season - his ADP on is 7.3, which seems about right, but if hes 3B eligible in your league, I could see reaching for him as high as fourth or fifth overall.

4. Adrian Gonzalez 1B Padres - Since 2006, his totals in runs, HRs, and RBIs have gone up every year, and while I don't know if we'll see that happen again this season, I would surely take last years 103 R, 36 HR, 119 RBI, and .279 average. Gonzalez usually gets taken in the late 3rd/early 4th rounds of drafts - since January 31st on MDC, he has been taken as high as 21 and as late as 50. It really depends on your personal preference with Gonzo, but he has been raking in the WBC, and at the age of 27, is in the prime of his career.

5. Prince Fielder 1B Brewers - Similar to Miguel Cabrera, Fielder got off to a horrendous start in 2008, hitting only four HRs in each of the first two months of the season. I'm not really sure what to expect out of Fielder this year - if you take a look at his stats over the past three seasons, his 2006 and 2008 seasons look a lot alike, where his 50-HR 2007 clearly stands out and at this point should be considered somewhat of a fluke. Fielder is still young (he turns 25 in May) so he still has plenty of room for improvement, but his K rate was slightly up and his BB rate slightly down - two signs that don't point to a turnaround in production. I would project Fielder for similar numbers to last season, with a few more HRs and RBI.

6. Joey Votto 1B Reds - The 25 year old Votto might be a couple of years away from showing his true potential, but should still put up solid fantasy stats in 2009. He put up a line of 69 R, 24 HR, 84 RBI, 7 SB, and a .297 average last season , and considering that he started off sharing time at 1B with Scott Hatteberg and got most of his AB hitting 7th, that line is fairly impressive. He will most likely be hitting 3rd for Cinci this year behind Willy Taveras and Jay Bruce. Taveras had an OBP of .308 last season, and Bruce was not much better at .314, so a lot of Votto's value depends on how the speedy Willy T and potential-oozing Bruce produce in front of him.

7. Derek Lee 1B Cubs - There is not a whole lot of upside that comes with drafting Lee in 2009, as he seems to be way past his prime. After crushing 46 HRs in 2005, Lee hit 22 HRs in 2007 and 20 in 2008, so you should look for that 20 or so HR trend to continue this season, a total that isn't very sexy when compared with the other studly 1B. While he may be lacking potential for a monster season, Lee is extremely safe and reliable - in addition to those 20 or so HRs, you can definitely expect 85-90 Runs and 85-90 RBI, in addition to an average around .30o. Lee's average draft position on MDC is 73rd overall, and I can't really see taking him before then.

Blagojevich Gets Lucrative Job Offer To Play Baseball

Blago doesn't have much to do these days, outside of preparing for his impending criminal trial of course. Well that fact hasn't been lost among prospective employers. Apparently the Joliet Jackhammers, a minor league team, have offered him a spot on the roster:

Blagojevich may not have much of a baseball pedigree, but he did play high school basketball and participated in a pair of fights after training as a Golden Gloves boxer. And he is supposed to be a die-hard Cubs fan, despite allegations he tried to hijack the Tribune company into firing some editorial writers in exchange for help in selling Wrigley Field.

"We figured with his vast knowledge and love for the game he would be a great addition to the team," said Kelly Sufka, JackHammers executive vice president and general manager, in a press release about the PR stunt. "Wally Backman, manager and former Major League player, will do what he can to get him as many at-bats as possible, but he may have to work hard in spring training to find himself a regular spot in the lineup."

The JackHammers obviously see the value in getting Blago on their roster and are ready to offer him a few incentives to come on board, starting with a Rod Blagojevich bobble-hair night, where 1,000 bobble-hairs (the hair instead of the head will bob) will be given away, and the ex-governor will throw out a first pitch. It marks the first time in team history a rookie has been offered a promotional item in his likeness.

The team also plans on having special "golden" seats available for purchase.

Will the good times never end for Blagojevich? There's no way he actually takes this offer, but how funny would it be? I would definitely go see him play.

Cubs Fans Frustrated With Offseason Can Take Solace In Cardinals' Significantly Worse Offseason

I don't know if you've been paying attention, but the Cardinals' offseason has been poor at best. They have done very little to improve and their pitching staff looks very thin. For some reason Cardinals GM John Mozeliak thought it would be a good idea to do an online chat where he answered questions from some very irate fans. Enjoy their misery:

dixie2003: Mr. Mozeliak, I would like to know how you were able to make a competitive offer to Brian Fuentes, then sign Royce Ring on the cheap? How do you go from a top tier free agent then sign a guy with an over 8 era? Is there any chance of signing a player that any other team would actually want?

John Mozeliak: Interesting question, and the answer is supply and demand. Yes we did try to sign Fuentes, but with him out of the market we simply just don’t over pay for some else. We allocate resources when we feel the player is worth the investment. Not to get to detailed on this topic but I feel it is a nice place to address how we make decisions. First we look at the player performance, then scouting reports, then enter the risk factors, and then finally place a dollar value and length we feel comfortable with. I know it is not always popular, but there is a logic to our process.

I Hate Bill Dewitt!!: Mo,
Please describe what it’s like living in your little land of make believe where you honestly believe that Cardinal fans should be excited about this team. If you wouldn’t mind, go into details, about how in MO’s world people are celebrating are three horrible new lefty relievers, and the signing of our awesome new .213 hitting shortstop.

John Mozeliak: First I rather live in my world then yours…it is sunny out today??? No you’re right it is 30 something degrees, my girl friend dumped me, and my car won’t start.
First, it is not we stink (unless you ask yourself these questions in the mirror) and we make decisions based on scouts, stats, and other information. If we thought Greene was going to hit .213 we would not, I repeat, not make the deal.
Go back to your world and I hope by mid summer you’re ready to come out for air.

I Hate Bill Dewitt!!: Hey Johnny-

After this are you going to go into the yahoo teen chat room, and talk about designer clothes, and playing spin the bottle. GO DO SOMETHING PRODUCTIVE LOSER!!!! Other G.M’s are working on deals, don’t you get it!!

John Mozeliak: Clever, and with that I will sign off big guy. STLtoday - Discussions - Cards Live.

Boom roasted. (Even Real Stadiums Have Roofs has to admit that was a good "boom roasted") At least we have Hendry working for us. I still trust he will make the right moves. Royce Ring? Really?

Who's This #24 Guy on The Bulls?

On a night where Johnny Red Kerr was honored for his career, the Bulls came through with a great victory. As I've said in earlier posts, this team has no identity. For stretches they play like a team that can be a legitimate playoff team, and then other times its like they don't even understand the basic concepts of team defense. After winning 5 of their last 8 (7 of which were on the road), this team is starting to look like that playoff team again.

One thing is different this time from the previous stretches of great play. Amid swirling trade rumors, Tyrus Thomas has exploded in the last 10 games or so. Not just exploded, but he looks like he can keep this up. He is averaging 15.6 pts and 9.8 rebs in his last 8 games. Do you think you know where this is going? Do you think I'm going to have second thoughts about dealing him to the Suns for Amare?

Are you crazy? Even if this little explosion by TT keeps up, his fg% during that time has been 47%. An excellent fg% perhaps, but for a big man it is just average. Either one of two things happens now, he continues to shoot that jump shot and miss it pretty regularly, keeping his fg% below what would be expected from an elite big man OR he stops shooting it and raises his fg% to maybe 54-55% but averages only about 12 points a game. I don't see how either option makes him as valuable as Amare. Amare is young, averages about 20 pts and 10 rebs for his career, and most importantly makes most of the shots he takes.

The truth is I'm thrilled that Tyrus is playing well right now. If something finally clicked for him, it's win-win for the Bulls. Either we keep him and he is a much improved player, or we deal him (please do the right thing Pax?!) and get THE Amare Stoudemire in return. Worst case scenario is it doesn't work out with Amare somehow and he walks in 2010, leaving us about $15 million in cap room for that magical free agent summer.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Nocioni Plays Pig in Wild Pig Hunt

I'm not sure what to say about this, so I'll just put the quote:
Forward Andres Nocioni chose an unusual off-day activity when the Bulls had some free time in Dallas this week. Nocioni joined strength and conditioning coach Erik Helland for a wild pig hunt in a rural town outside of Dallas. The pair reportedly rode mules, accompanied by several guides and pit bulls. Nocioni owns a large ranch in his native Argentina and spends his summers hunting, fishing and riding horses. Nocioni said he enjoyed the hunt and apparently bagged some wild pigs, because he ended up with plenty of meat to bring home.
It's too good to be true. The question is was he the hunter or the pig? Sources have not confirmed the answer to this crucial question.

Boom roasted.

PECOTA Projects 2009 Cubs to Win 96 Games; Still Can't Determine Who Will Win Short Series

If you read any Cubs blogs, then you may have already heard this news since it seems like we are the last ones to report it. Apparently PECOTA, an advanced system used by sabremetricians to determine an individual player's contribution to wins based on certain advanced metrics (I think? This stuff is usually way over my head), is used in the aggregate to determine the amount of wins each team will have.

Well using PECOTA, Baseball Prospectus has determined that the Cubs will win the Central by 13 games:

Central W L RS RA

Chicago Cubs 96 66 871 749

Milwaukee Brewers 83 79 823 807

St. Louis Cardinals 80 82 779 796

Cincinnati Reds 79 83 783 796

Houston Astros 67 95 712 850

Pittsburgh Pirates 65 97 720 885

Well...we saw what all this hoopla and high hopes did for us last year. I'm not saying that 96 wins isn't nice, but isn't there something that can project wins in a series? I mean come on nerds, you've been studying the statistics and math of baseball for the past 30 years! I think it's time to figure this one out. Sorry, I just find it hard to get excited about all these Vegas odds and PECOTA projections when all I really want is a goddamn ring.

So Who's Really Left?

The not-so-surprising revelation that A-Rod took performance enhancing drugs for a few years, along with the information that upwards of 100 other players tested positive in 2003 brings up many issues and questions, but I just want to focus on one. Are there any pure home-run hitters left out there that are above suspicion of steroid use?

I'm writing this without doing any research and I'm just using memory and common sense, so let me know who I have missed in the comments. I have no idea who is above suspicion anymore. I think for a while, A-Rod got a pass. Then came Canseco's comments and what seemed like a shifting of public perception about baseball players and steroids in general.

So here are some names to think about: Pujols, Ortiz, Thome, Howard, Morneau, Andruw Jones, and Griffey. These are some of the better home run hitters of the last ten years; are any of them really above suspicion? A lot of these guys, most notably the first four, have typically avoided too much scrutiny because they have always been huge. Thome in particular just has that country strong look, while Pujols was a big guy putting up big numbers consistently.

Griffey seems to be the one that would surprise people the most in the group. His body has obviously gone through physical changes, but how much is simply aging? Plus, Griffey has been hurt an awful lot during his career and has had trouble coming back from those, something not typical of PED users.

Then you have another group of guys who don't look the part of a steroid user: Soriano, Utley, Luis Gonzalez, and Torii Hunter. What about these guys though? A-Rod seemed to fool people with a slow progression from slender to roided, could these guys be doing the same?

The ramifications of this era are yet to be seen. What will be the effect on the record books? Public perception? We'll see, but for now I think it's safe to say that after A-Rod and especially if this 2003 list is released in its entirety, no one will be immune from speculation the shadow of doubt will be cast over all players. Even you David Eckstein! Just kidding. But maybe.

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