Monday, March 16, 2020


Another season of baseball is here! Below you'll find my predicted standings and playoff results that show a few long suffering teams finally coming due, and a few perennial favorites suffering from upsetitis.*

(*These predictions were made before the entire nation was paralyzed by the COVID-19 scare. Obviously, with a shorter season, the results may not hold up. But I am presenting the entire 162 game results because we don't know how many games the 2020 schedule will feature, depending on how many games are lost to the mass sequestration.)

AL East
New York City is pretty much a hub of human contact, which I think will be a major distraction for the teams playing nearby. The Yankees have had a lot of injuries crop up late in Spring Training as well, which is why I think they will falter and finish a game back of the surprising Rays in the AL East. Boston still has a potent offense despite trading perhaps the best Non-Trout player in MLB, Mookie Betts, but they are historically subject to wild fluctuation in win totals. I feel like they're on a down year. Toronto is still a year away from the Baby Jays being a force to be reckoned with. Baltimore is still Baltimore.

AL Central
The biggest surprise will be how quickly the Indians fall from grace. The White Sox are primed to jump up in the standings with their fleet of new, young, team-controlled talent, but they still have too little experience to overcome the Bomba Squad Twins (+ Josh Donaldson) in the standings. Royals have few options for potent offense, except for Jorge Soler, who has struggled through Spring Training. At least they still have the Tigers to shield them from the bottom if the division.

AL West
The Athletics are ready to take the next step and win the AL West. They will be helped in this endeavor by fans all over MLB, who will bring as much negative energy as possible to games in which the Astros play. The Astros claim they will thrive on it (because they're smug pricks to the end), but it will wear harshly on them as the season goes on, and I can't in good conscience pick them to reach the playoffs this season. The California Anaheim Los Angeles Angels have perhaps become the most improved team in their division with recent signings, but they still have too many questions and will not be able to make it all click this season. Texas has made some great moves, but they still won't be able to crack the top half of the division. Seattle... poor Seattle. The last team to ever make it to the World Series (unless MLB expands, in which case, the expansion team may still make it before the M's) has a while to go yet.

NL East
The defending champs will have a tough road ahead, especially in that they've lost their most potent bat in Anthony Rendon, which is why they'll slip behind the Atlanta Braves come season's end. The Mets are confident, perhaps more than they have a right to be, but they'll do okay, especially in the same division as the Florida Miami Marlins. Philadelphia continues to wonder why they haven't instantly won the WS despite signing Bryce Harper for obscene amounts of money. They have the best lineup of any team that will not win 81 games.

NL Central
The Reds are the sleeping giants of the Central (as opposed to the Giants, who are the comatose Giants of the National League). They have the right group of guys to take advantage of a chaotic division. The Brewers have not done enough to keep up and lock down the division, and the Cubs have done next to nothing to try and slow the steady decline they find themselves in ('16 World Champs, '17 Central Champs, '18 Wildcard, '19 Nothing). I always pick the Cards to do poorly, and I'm always wrong, so I'm learning my lesson and picking them to have a decent season (if they trade for Arenado, they have a real shot at the Reds). The Pirates are in the beginnings of a dark era of playoff drought. Let's hope it's not another 21 years like the one they ended in 2013.

NL West
The Dodgers are mad as Hell, and they're not going to take it any more! They've been denied by the Astros, who cheated their way to a Championship in 2017. They were denied by the Red Sox, who... ALSO cheated their way to a Championship in 2018. They were denied in 2019 by the Washington Nationals, who defied the odds and defeated the cheating Astros in 2019. It's time for the best team in baseball (a status cemented with the trade for Mookie Betts) to finally get the ring they've been chasing. Arizona will erupt out of nowhere to swipe a wildcard spot from one of the struggling NL Central teams, while the Padres still haven't figured out how to turn Manny Machado into 10 wins. The Rockies are going to have to deal with a disgruntled Arenado, who, along with Trevor Story, is like 75% of their offense. The Giants will be sponsored by Zz-Quil this season for all the fans they put to sleep.

The Playoffs
The AL Wildcard will feature the upstart Chicago White Sox riding the bats of their young guns and their surprisingly potent pitching rotation to upset the New York Yankees in the Bronx for the AL Wildcard, but will fall short of the surging Athletics in the ALDS. The Rays will knock the Twins out to get to their second ALCS, and slip past the A's to take the AL crown for the first time in a dozen years.

The NL Wildcard will be the last hurrah of the World Champion Nats, who will beat the D'Backs but nevertheless be crushed by the juggernaut Dodgers in a revenge match. The Reds and Braves will go seven, and the Reds will emerge victorious, but be powerless to stop the Dodgers, who are on a mission.

The World Series will feature the dominant Dodgers for the third time in four years, facing off against the Rays who are sneaky good, but not quite good enough to put a halt to the Dodger Blue finally getting their first championship since 1988.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

The Verdict is In

The 2017 Astros have been found guilty of using technological means to enable stealing signs from the opposing team's catcher.

The punishment is as follows: Fine of $5MM, the maximum allowable fine under baseball's rules; one year suspensions for General Manager Jeff Luhhow and Manager AJ Hinch; forfeiture of 1st and 2nd round draft picks in 2020 and 2021.

The Astros went on to further punish both Luhnow and Hinch by terminating their contracts altogether.

Notably, not punished by the ruling: Alex Cora, former Astros bench coach and current head coach of the Boston Red Sox, or any of the multitude of players who orchestrated and benefited from the ever evolving cheating scheme.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred stated “Assessing discipline of players for this type of conduct is both difficult and impractical. It is difficult, because virtually all of the Astros’ players had some involvement or knowledge of the scheme, and I am not in a position based on the investigative record to determine with any degree of certainty every player who should be held accountable, or their relative degree of culpability. It is impractical given the large number of players involved, and the fact that many of those players now play for other clubs.”

As a diehard White Sox fan, this portion of the ruling is disturbing. In 1919, the Chicago White Sox were acquitted of charges of conspiring to throw the World Series against Cincinnati. The Commissioner of Major League Baseball, Kenesaw "Mountain" Landis (appointed following the scandal by the owners of MLB as a way to ensure that the game would maintain its integrity) banned eight White Sox players (and a St. Louis Browns player Joe Gedeon who knew of the fix and bet on the Reds) from ever playing in the Major Leagues again, including "Shoeless" Joe Jackson and George "Buck" Weaver. In his ruling, Landis stated: "Regardless of the verdict of juries, no player who throws a ball game, no player who undertakes or promises to throw a ball game, no player who sits in confidence with a bunch of crooked ballplayers and gamblers, where the ways and means of throwing a game are discussed and does not promptly tell his club about it, will ever play professional baseball again."

Buck Weaver had 11 hits for a .324 batting average in the series. Joe Jackson batted .375, with the series' only homerun, and was errorless in 30 chances on the field. Both players were banned nonetheless for knowing about the scheme and failing to report it to their manager, Kid Gleason, or the team owner, Charles Comiskey.

With no evidence that Jackson and Weaver took part in the fix, and evidence that they played to their utmost, they were still banned for life for knowing about it and not reporting it. So why are these modern day players being given far more leniency?

Money. I guarantee you it's about money.

Were Rob Manfred to ban every player involved, even for a year, the Astros would likely be decimated by the ruling. It is highly unlikely that any player on that team (with the possible (yet still unlikely) exception of the relievers in the bullpen) was unaware of what was transpiring. Even a day-one rookie would likely be curious as to why there was someone just down the tunnel banging on garbage cans like they were auditioning on drums for the Fat Albert Junkyard Band.

Manfred could have fined the players half of their 2017 salaries (they only benefited at home, after all), and if you truly want to punish a player, their pocket is the place to do it. Forcing players to turn over their World Series rings would be some measure of justice, but those rings are awarded by the club, not Major League Baseball.

The entire team would need to be suspended, including players who are now playing for other teams. Why should the other teams be penalized? Suspending the players, even for just a year, would be catastrophic. Rob Manfred is not Judge Landis. Houston is the fourth largest city in America and there is no way he wants to be the guy who destroys a franchise in such a large market. The $5 million is a drop in the bucket. Luhnow can be replaced. Hinch can be replaced (and there are a plethora of qualified coaches looking for work). The draft picks are the part that will hurt the team the most; not being able to draft high quality, controllable prospects for two years will potentially take a big bite out of the team's competitiveness over the next five to ten years. At some point, I expect the draft penalties will cause a drop in win totals, and I can see them becoming a 90 loss team again for a few years (unless their new GM gets crazy lucky with late draft picks and is a savvy trader). That's bad enough to punish a fan base that technically did nothing wrong.

The absence of Alex Cora in any of the punishment language, to me, is telling. Why punish the Red Sox for something the Astros did? It's not like Cora's very next team won the World Series the following year- oh, wait, that's exactly what happened. The Red Sox won the World Series in 2018 (Cora's first year as head coach), and now they are being investigated in a sign stealing scandal. Quelle surprise!

I think the reason Cora was not mentioned is that Mandfred knows what happened with the Red Sox in '18, and he's just waiting for the evidence to be presented. I think at the conclusion of that investigation, Cora will be banned from baseball for life, and I hope that is what happens. The danger is what if the investigation into the Red Sox somehow finds no evidence of sign stealing; does Cora get away scot free?

I don't think so, and I hope not. You know what they say, "Fool me once, shame on me; fool me twice, yer ass is getting torn up."

Saturday, November 30, 2019

The Penalty for the 2017 Astros Needs to be Severe, and Focused

As details continue to emerge regarding the 2017 Astros' sign-stealing scandal, Major League Baseball and its fans are of varied opinion about how severe the penalties need to be. But the one thing that almost every one of them have in common is the belief that there should  be a penalty for it. Stealing signs undermines the integrity of the game. For a sport that has been rocked by the cheating scandal of the 1919 Chicago White Sox and swore "never again," this kind of thing is a huge black eye and a test of their credibility.

Many feel that the players, coaches and executives involved should be fined and suspended, even though many of them have moved on to other teams. This has the potential to penalize teams that were not involved, however. Alex Cora, a bench coach for the Astros in 2017, is now the manager of the Boston Red Sox. Why should the Red Sox be punished for a wrong-doing another team perpetrated?*

(*Oy, did that not age well. The Red Sox are now implicated in a sign stealing scandal taking place in 2018, and once again, at the heart of it, is Alex Cora.)

The only way to be fair in all of this is to tailor the penalties to the individuals without interfering with their new positions. Fines, then would be the primary factor. I suggest that MLB fine all parties involved the exact amount they earned as a World Series share, as well as 10% of their 2017 salary. This retroactively punishes them without affecting the team they currently play for. They should also be forced to turn in their World Series Championship rings. Why should they get to keep a trophy they didn't earn?

As far as the Astros organization, it's a harder case to call. Yes, the organization had to have known what was going on, given the technology and complexity involved, but to penalize them draft picks and international pool money, revoke any playoff eligibility, and/or retroactively strip them of their world series title not only penalizes the team, it penalizes the fanbase as well. The fans did nothing wrong, and although you can say they benefited (tangentially) from the scheme, it's tough to say they gained anything but pride.

However, if you are okay with the fans suffering as collateral damage, then let's not hold back on the punishment. If you really want to send a message to Houston and any other team that this sort of thing will not be tolerated, then I propose you allow each team in the league, once per series played against the Astros in Houston, the ability to create a run out of nothing, at the time of their choosing.

Example: The Mariners, down one to the Astros in the top of the ninth, decide to exercise their option. They add the run, and the game is tied. If the pitcher currently on the mound was an Astro in 2017, then the run counts as an earned run; if not, the run is unearned. All further stats are also considered; if the closer was a 'Stro in '17, he gets a blown save. If the teams are tied in the ninth, and the opponent elects to add the run, and they win the game with a shutout 9th, then the pitcher gets the loss. If, at the end of the series, the opponent has not used the run, it gets added onto the box score of the last game in the series.

You might say that teams that divisional teams have a greater advantage in this scenario, but they also played more games against the Astros in 2017, and arguably suffered more from the cheating. You may think it will create a glut of fictional runs, but if the Astros are good enough, they will be up by more than one for many of these games. There is an infinitesimal chance that the phantom runs never decide a game, in which case the organization would escape any real punishment. But let's look at 2017's results to see how it might affect them in 2020:

In 2017, the Astros played 5 extra inning games at home (2-3), and 12 one-run non-extras games at home (7-5). If the same thing happened in 2020, they would likely lose those all 5 of those games before they even got to extra innings (unless the opponents chose not to exercise the phantom run). Assuming those 7 one run victories games all went to extras, let's say the Astros are good enough to win 3 of them in extra innings anyway. The Astros record would have 6 fewer wins. If they were a 101-61 team (like 2017) they'd actually be 95-67 (which, if these penalties were retroactively put in place against the 2017 Astros, they would have still won the division handily, as the Rangers were in 2nd place with a losing record (80-82).

Alternatively, the Astros could forfeit their DH privilege for 2020. Make the pitchers hit. The opponent can still use a DH, but not the Astros.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Smart Centipede 2019 MLB Season Prediction Show Thing Deal

We're back to take a look at how the 2019 MLB Season will shake out. I am so sick of seeing the teams shown in the same order in every article on Yahoo, AL East -> West, NL East -> West. So I'm flipping the script. DEAL WITH IT.

NL West

Los Angeles Dodgers - 
2018 Record (Finish): 92-71 (1st)
2019 Pecota Projections: 94-68 (1st)
Notes: The Dodgers need to be really scared right now. Clayton Kershaw has been having problems and they seem to be coming out of nowhere. Suddenly, he wasn't feeling right, and suddenly, he wasn't pitching, and suddenly, he isn't going to be ready by opening day. Doesn't this whole thing just smack of the collapse of a promising career? I hope I am wrong, I've been digging the Dodgers renaissance as of late, but to quote every single Star Wars movie ever: "I have a bad feeling about this."
2019 SC Prediction: 95-67 (1st)

Colorado Rockies - 
2018 Record (Finish): 91-72 (2nd; NL WC2)
2019 Pecota Projections: 85-77 (2nd)
Notes: The Rockies just signed Arenado to a HUGE extension, which means they're either set for the next ten years, or he's about to collapse. The Rox don't have a ton of depth, but the players they do have starting are all high quality, and the pitchers look poised for big seasons at the same time. Should be interesting, at the very least, to see if they can get back to Rocktober!
2019 SC Prediction: 89-73 (2nd)

San Diego Padres - 
2018 Record (Finish): 66-96 (5th)
2019 Pecota Projections: 79-83 (4th)
Notes: The Padres are in first place since signing Manny Machado to a ten year albatross they'll want to shed in 2023. Sadly, the games in Arizona don't count (unless it's a D-Backs home game played after- shut up, you know what I mean) and the Padres still play at Petco Park, which is fitting because the fans are often left looking as disappointed as a stray on the verge of being euthanized. Manny has a lot on his shoulders this season. If they spend more than they already have on players to help him, they may have a shot at a championship... but San Diego has never struck me as a franchise that was willing to empty the bank for a run at sustained excellence.
2019 SC Prediction: 77-85 (3rd)

San Francisco Giants - 
2018 Record (Finish): 73-89 (4th)
2019 Pecota Projections: 73-89 (5th)
Notes: What the Hell happened to the Giants?! They won World Series three times in the past ten years, does anyone remember that? Now I feel like every time they take the field a landslide is going to just bury the entire city. They are a cautionary tale, folks, but for the life of me I can't figure out the lesson. The only thing going for them is they don't owe Bryce Harper $330 million dollars.
2019 SC Prediction: 75-87 (4th)

Arizona Diamondbacks - 
2018 Record (Finish): 82-80 (3rd)
2019 Pecota Projections: 81-81 (3rd)
Notes: Godley will have to be to keep them from collapsing. The loss of A.J. Pollack and replacement in the form of Adam Jones is a steep drop. The loss of Paul Goldschmidt means David Peralta is the only guy left with any kind of decent pop. Definitely a down-stroke in the cycle for these guys. Upside: At least they still have Zack Greinke. Downside: They still have to pay Zack Greinke.
2019 SC Prediction: 74-88 (5th)

NL Central

Milwaukee Brewers - 
2018 Record (Finish): 96-67 (1st)
2019 Pecota Projections: 88-74 (1st)
Notes: The Brew Crew came out of nowhere to win the Central last season. They still have a lot of powerful pieces in play, and the Central isn't exactly the AL East, so they should still do reasonably well, but not as well as last season, record wise, anyway. They still have Ryan Braun, who is a disgusting cheater who thinks getting off on a technicality is the same thing as being proven innocent (douchebag), so I'm always hoping he'll pull a Bump Bailey running after a fly ball, but Yelich is the true star of that outfield now.
2019 SC Prediction: 90-72 (1st)

Chicago Cubs -
2018 Record (Finish): 95-68 (2nd, WC1)
2019 Pecota Projections: 78-83 (5th)
Notes: As much as I dislike the Cubs, it's hard to argue what they've done over the past five years. Their rebuild is the blueprint that all other franchises need to at least consult if they hope to succeed. They still have a stacked lineup, a stacked rotation, and the second best baseball hot-dogs in the Windy City. If they underachieve justa  tiny bit in every facet of the game, they might lose the Central... and isn't that just the most "Cubs" thing possible?
2019 SC Prediction: 86-76 (2nd)

Cincinnati Reds -
2018 Record (Finish): 67-95 (5th)
2019 Pecota Projections: 81-81 (3rd)
Notes: Yasiel Mania hits Cincinnati! The former outspoken Dodger is now an outspoken Red. They also still have Joey Votto, a cyborg created in the year 2983 and sent back in time to destroy baseballs, so they have a shot at winning some games, but their top starter is Sonny Gray. Three years ago that would have been awesome. Now... not so much. Hopefully he (and Matt Kemp) will return to form and Puig will drop the shenanigans he's known so well for.
2019 SC Prediction: 81-81 (3rd)

Pittsburgh Pirates - 
2018 Record (Finish): 82-79 (4th)
2019 Pecota Projections: 80-82 (4th)
Notes: The Buccos have a shiny new number one this season: Chris Archer! They also have Starling Marte, and... uhhh... wait, I had it here just a minute ago... where the heck did I put it? I just saw it... hmm. No. No, I guess they don't have much else. Sorry, Pittsburgh. I love your football team, and your city is awesome, but the new longest suffering NL fanbase (that has won at least one WS) will have to wait at least one more season.
2019 SC Prediction: 80-82 (4th)

St. Louis Cardinals - 
2018 Record (Finish): 88-74 (3rd)
2019 Pecota Projections: 86-76 (2nd)
Notes: Paul Goldschmidt is the best player to play at 1B for the Cardinals since Albert Pujols. He's a huge get for them. They also have a solid starting roster... so why can't they hit this spring? The new life Goldy will breathe into St. Louis is more like a last gasp. The longest reigning champion of the "World's Most Overrated Catcher" Award is back for his nine-hundredth season with the Cards this year. The team just seems like a mess. They'll stumble and fall out of the gate this season.
2019 SC Prediction: 76-86 (5th)

NL East

Philadelphia Phillies - 
2018 Record (Finish): 80-82 (3rd)
2019 Pecota Projections: 89-73 (T-1st)
Notes: Bryce Harper! J.T. Realmuto! Jean Segura! Andrew McCutchen! David Robertson! Rhys Hoskins (back in the infield)! Is there any doubt which team made the biggest splash in the off-season? They have a wicked one-two punch at the top of the rotation, and the most improved line-up in baseball. The worst fan-base in sports gets another shot at a title they won't deserve!
2019 SC Prediction: 97-65 (1st)

Atlanta Braves - 
2018 Record (Finish): 90-72 (1st)
2019 Pecota Projections: 85-77 (4th)
Notes: IF Julio Teheran can return to form... IF Dansby Swanson starts to live up to his awesome potential... IF Ronald Acuna follows up his amazing rookie season with something even better... IF Josh Donaldson can rediscover his swing... IF Ozzie Albies can take the next step... the Braves have a shot at finishing second in the NL East. They'll probably finish no worse than third anyway, even IF they don't do all those things.
2019 SC Prediction: 88-74 (2nd)

Washington Nationals - 
2018 Record (Finish): 82-80 (2nd)
2019 Pecota Projections: 89-73 (T-1st, WC1)
Notes: I'm sorry, there's no way a team finishes seven games better without Bryce Harper in their lineup than they did with. The sad thing is, they still have an amazing team without him, but it just makes no logical sense that they will succeed so quickly after losing the face of their franchise to a rival team in the same division.
2019 SC Prediction: 86-76 (3rd)

New York Mets -
2018 Record (Finish): 77-85 (4th)
2019 Pecota Projections: 87-75 (3rd)
Notes: They still have one of the best rotations in the NL, if not all of baseball. However, they still have no one who will give them run support. If Robinson Cano is the answer, you really have to wonder how tough the question was. Bonus prediction: The Mets will have the most number of 1-0 losses this season.
2019 SC Prediction: 80-82 (4th)

Miami Marlins - 
2018 Record (Finish): 63-98 (5th)
2019 Pecota Projections: 67-95 (5th)
Notes: The Marlins have, yet again, gutted their team. Of the players currently on their roster from last season, the HR leader is Starlin Castro, who hit 12. He also leads the same subset of players with 8 stolen bases. Bonus predictions: there are 35 players who will hit more HR by themselves than the Marlins entire team in 2019. Trea Turner will also out-steal the Marlins, 59 to 32.
2019 SC Prediction: 68-94 (5th, possibly 6th if the Williamsport Little League Champions are allowed to play in the Majors this season)

AL West - 

Houston Astros - 
2018 Record (Finish): 103-59 (1st)
2019 Pecota Projections: 98-64 (1st)
Notes: This team is one monster 1B away from an All-Star infield (sorry, Yuli, you look like a pineapple and play like a squash). The rotation is loaded with former, current, and future All-Stars. They still play in the AL West. All signs point to another Division title in Houston.
2019 SC Prediction: 98-64 (1st)

Seattle Mariners - 
2018 Record (Finish): 89-73 (3rd)
2019 Pecota Projections: 72-90 (4th)
Notes: It seems to me like there are always two possible records for the Mariners: 87-75, or 78-84. I know, it's verifiably not true, but it just seems like it to me. I wish I knew why. This team has a solid lineup and decent pitching, so I think it will lean closer to a good year than a bad, and Ichiro is back, so let's hope they get back to the playoffs for one last surge with him.
2019 SC Prediction: 84-78 (2nd)

Oakland Athletics - 
2018 Record (Finish): 97-65 (2nd, WC2)
2019 Pecota Projections: 78-84 (3rd)
Notes: I can't figure out Oakland. I don't know if anyone really can. They should not have even sniffed the playoffs last season. They should be terrible this year. Yet they made last year work, so why not again? Nothing makes sense any more.
2019 SC Prediction: somewhere between 75-87 (T-3rd) and 117-45 (1st).

Los Angeles California Angels of Anaheim - 
2018 Record (Finish): 80-82 (4th)
2019 Pecota Projections: 80-82 (2nd)
Notes: Mike Trout is about to become the highest paid player in baseball history, finalizing a deal worth $430 million dollars over 12 years. The downside? He has to spend that 12 years with the Angels. The Angels have made the playoffs only once with Trout, losing in 2014's LDS to the eventual World Champion Royals. This deal is so insanely expensive that it does not help their prospects of signing other quality free-agents to play around him. So in all likelihood, they'll either need to trade him (which might not be possible if there is a no trade clause) or suck for the next 12 years.
2019 SC Prediction: 75-87 (T-3rd)

Texas Rangers - 
2018 Record (Finish): 67-95 (5th)
2019 Pecota Projections: 70-92 (5th)
Notes: Dear God, Joey Gallo is listed as their starting centerfielder. Joey Gallo. With the departure of Adrian Beltre, so too goes the last of the fun to be had in Arlington. "The game tonight, is a messed up sight (clap clap clap clap) deep in the heart... of Texas!"
2019 SC Prediction: 66-96 (5th)

AL Central

Cleveland Indians - 
2018 Record (Finish): 91-71 (1st)
2019 Pecota Projections: 96-66 (1st)
Notes: The collapse of the Cleveland Indians is coming any day now. I can feel it in my bones. It's inevitable. But when? They are still the class of a weak division, and they'll win just enough to fight off the surging Twins yet again.
2019 SC Prediction: 88-74 (1st)

Minnesota Twins - 
2018 Record (Finish): 78-84 (2nd)
2019 Pecota Projections: 82-80 (2nd)
Notes: The Twins are still a mystery. Every season it looks like they will be terrible, yet they keep succeeding. I don't know how they do it, it may be arcane magic. They've got a clubhouse leader in Cruz, who if he stays healthy (and drug-free) should hit another 40 homeruns this season. There are a bunch of questions, but if they answer all of them yes, they have a real shot at upsetting Cleveland this season.
2019 SC Prediction: 87-75 (2nd)

Chicago White Sox - 
2018 Record (Finish): 62-100 (4th)
2019 Pecota Projections: 70-92 (4th)
Notes: This off-season, the story has been more about what hasn't been accomplished (signing either of the big name free-agents) than what has been done (not signing either of the big-name free agents, saving money that can be better invested in talent to help the core in 2020). The team is following the blue print laid out by the cross-town rival Cubs, who's own rebuild culminated in a title in 2016. The team still has to deal with a patchwork bullpen which isn't so much a "who's who" as it is a "who's that?" The offense is exciting, but not nearly as exciting is what's coming next year. They'll shock a few this season. I absolutely hate that they are discussing keeping Eloy Jimenez down until his free agency gets pushed back a year; that's more of a Cubs thing to do. Be better than that, White Sox.
2019 SC Prediction: 73-89 (3rd place)

Kansas City Royals - 
2018 Record (Finish): 58-104 (5th)
2019 Pecota Projections: 72-90 (3rd)
Notes:If Jorge Soler can figure things out, they might have a shot at slipping past the White Sox. Either way, that's as far as they'll go. Whit Merrifield's gonna be very lonely at the 2019 All-Star game.
2019 SC Prediction: 71-91 (3rd place)

Detroit Tigers - 
2018 Record (Finish): 64-98 (3rd)
2019 Pecota Projections: 66-96 (5th)
Notes: It's sad to see Miguel Cabrera surrounded by this flotsam and jetsam that Detroit passes off as a major league baseball team. At least Josh Harrison should be fun to watch.
2019 SC Prediction: 64-98 (5th)

AL East - 

New York Yankees - 
2018 Record (Finish): 100-62 (2nd, WC1)
2019 Pecota Projections: 96-68 (1st)
Notes: This is getting Steinbrenner levels of ridiculousness now. The Yankees were rumored to be heavily in on everyone this off-season, despite the fact they have six outfielders, three shortstops, eight closers, and six number two starters. They ended up with DJ LeMahieu (didn't he win a batting title two years ago?!) as a super-utility guy and have two of the best right fielders in the game (when they were actively courting a third) and picked up a former All-Star level shortstop as a stop gap until their real All-Star shortstop comes back. This team is stacked. If the starting pitching holds up, they will be the team to beat in the AL East.
2019 SC Prediction: 99-63 (1st)

Boston Red Sox - 
2018 Record (Finish): 108-54 (1st)
2019 Pecota Projections: 90-72 (2nd, WC1)
Notes: The city of Boston has a very short memory when it comes to sports. They forget that, for the longest time in sports (except for the Celtics), they were a punchline of a very bad joke. Now that Boston has won several Championships (and at least one in all four of the major sports) and are the most successful sporting city in the 21st Century, the city swaggers about as if it has always been sports nirvana, rather than a town where championship dreams go to die. As such, they seem to have forgotten that they need a bullpen to win. They need to replace Craig Kimbrel badly, too bad there isn't someone out there who could do that... except there is; Craig Kimbrel. If they don't do something, they'll fall short this season and get passed by their hated rivals, the Yankees.
2019 SC Prediction: 91-71 (2nd)

Toronto Blue Jays - 
2018 Record (Finish): 73-89 (4th)
2019 Pecota Projections: 75-87 (4th)
Notes: A lot of people are sleeping on the Blue Jays, but their team has some pretty decent depth and some kid of a former major leaguer who is already being enshrined in Cooperstown, if you believe the hype. Vladdy Jr. is going to start the year in the minors to work on that pesky "becoming a free agent in 2025" strain the team says he's suffering from. If Marcus Stroman can become the dominant All-Star everyone named Marcus Stroman believes he is, the Jays could be making a surprise push.
2019 SC Prediction: 84-78 (3rd)

Tampa Bay Rays - 
2018 Record (Finish): 90-72 (3rd)
2019 Pecota Projections: 85-77 (3rd, WC2)
Notes: Tampa Bay has been playing over their heads. They don't have a full rotation, their big pickup has been Mike frikkin Zunino, and they are relying on Avisail Garcia to be competent. I really hope he turns things around, but he was dismal with the White Sox, and I don't see him suddenly flipping the switch at the Trop. Actually, since I started writing this entry, they've picked up Tommy Pham, so they might finish "extra 3rd" which is like 3rd, but with Pizza Hut after the game instead of the soul crushing silence of disappointed parents on the ride home.
2019 SC Prediction: 80-82 (4th)

Baltimore Orioles - 
2018 Record (Finish): 47-115 (5th)
2019 Pecota Projections: 58-104 (5th)
Notes: I think it is appropriate that the Orioles had braille jerseys lasts season.
2019 SC Prediction: 50-112 (5th)

Monday, February 04, 2019

21st Century Championships Won by Boston

21st Century Championships Won by Boston:
Super Bowls: 6 (2001, 2003, 2004, 2014, 2016, 2018)
World Series: 4 (2004, 2007, 2013, 2018)
Stanley Cup: 1 (2013)
NBA: 1 (2010)
Winner, Most Insufferable, Smuggest Fans: 8 (2001, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2014, 2016 (3-way tie w/ Cubs, Cavs), 2018) (exempted, 2013)
Super Bowls Won by Players Suspected of Cheating at some point in their careers: 6 (see above)
Most Miserable Ugliest Human Being In Sports Award: 18 (Bill Belichick, 2000-2018)
Most Athletes Convicted of Murder: 1 (tied)
City With Shortest Memory About How They Sucked, Like, FOREVER Awards: 14 consecutive (dethroned after finishing 3rd in 2016, behind Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Cavaliers)
Winner, Slowest Moving Bandwagon 18 years straight!
Quickest Decline in Win Total: TBD (Already on order for whatever year Brady retires)

Monday, February 27, 2017

Smart Centipede's 2017 MLB Off-Season Wrap Up and Prediction Show


Baltimore Orioles
2016: 89-73 (T-2nd, WC2)
Acquisitions: Logan Verrett, Welington Castillo, Seth Smith, Gabriel Ynoa
Key Transaction: Re-signing Mark Trumbo
Analysis: They took care of their big need; retaining the services of the 2016 AL Home Run leader for the next three years. Welington Castillo shows the Orioles have moved on from Matt Wieters, and there aren't a great many better options out there, so they haven't made enough serious strides to guarantee they return to the post season.
Off-Season Grade: C
Forecast: 3rd in AL East

Boston Red Sox
2016: 93-69 (1st)
Acquisitions: Chris Sale, Tyler Thornburg, Mitch Moreland, Carlos Quentin
Key Transaction: Trading for Chris Sale
Analysis: There is not much the Red Sox can do to replace their biggest departure, as David Ortiz was not so much a player as a force of nature. Some may say they failed to do enough to replace him, but how do you even do that? The real key here is the Red Sox parted with top prospects to land Chris Sale, who is in a very team friendly contract, to compete for the number one spot. Even if he doesn't unseat David Price, he's the best number two in the league, and their number 3? 22 game winner Rick Porcello.
Off-Season Grade: B+
Forecast: 1st in AL East

New York Yankees

2016: 84-78 (4th)
Acquisitions: Albert Abreu, Aroldis Chapman, Jorge Guzman, Matt Holiday, Ruben Tejada, Chris Carter 
Key Transaction: Signing Aroldis Chapman
Analysis: They brought back the best reliever in baseball, after sending him to the Chicago Cubs to get a World Series ring (how far upside down does that statement sound?). They also brought in a 40 HR hitter in Carter... to play where? He's a 1B, but they have the much younger Greg Bird set to take over. They brought in Matt Holliday to DH, and he's not going to be better defensively than the core they have set to start in the OF, Gardener, Ellsbury and Aaron Judge.
Off-Season Grade: B
Forecast: 4th in AL East

Tampa Bay Rays

2016: 68-94 (5th)
Acquisitions: Wilson Ramos, Mallex Smith, Logan Morrison, Colby Rasmus, Nathan Eovaldi
Key Transaction: Signing Wilson Ramos
Analysis: The Rays finished dead last last year, and look to do so again, apparently. Wilson Ramos was a smart move, as his great 2016 and high potential value for 2017 was hurt by a late season injury, and they got him for a cheap 2 year deal. They dealt Drew Smyly, and didn't get much for him, and then brought in Nathan Eovaldi, re-crowding their rotation. The B- is an optimistic grade, assuming Colby Rasmus and Eovaldi both get back to the value they were previously perceived to have.
Off-Season Grade: B-
Forecast: 5th in AL East

Toronto Blue Jays
89-73 (T-2nd, WC1)
Acquisitions: Kendrys Morales, Steve Pearce, Jose Bautista, J.P. Howell, Joe Smith 
Key Transaction: Signing Kendrys Morales
Analysis: The Jays replaced Edwin Encarnacion with Kendrys Morales. Steve Pearce will try to fill the oft-injured shoes of Michael Saunders. There's a drop-off in the lineup. The Jays have had injuries hamper their efforts in the past, but in 2017, a healthy Marcus Stroman will burst back onto the scene and carry them into the playoffs.
Off-Season Grade: C
Forecast: 2nd in AL East


Chicago White Sox
78-84 (4th)
Acquisitions: Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Reynaldo Lopez, Dane Dunning, Luis Alexander Basabe, Geovany Soto, Derek Holland
Key Transaction: Trading Chris Sale/Adam Eaton
Analysis: For a rebuilding team that sent away two players (Sale, Eaton) and netted six great prospects, The White Sox have a lot left to do. While I admire GM Rick Hahn for sticking to his guns in not trading away remaining stars Jose Quintana, Todd Frazier and David Robertson for lesser packages, what we are looking at now is a team that has enough to sit in the middle of the road, but not enough to take the next step. Now they seem to be moving too slow into the rebuild. If they get comparable packages for Quintana, Robertson, and Frazier to what they got for Sale and Eaton, the rebuild will be a huge success and Hahn will be a genius, but until then, they're not good enough right now, and not good enough in the future.
Off-Season Grade: B+
Forecast: 4th in AL Central

Cleveland Indians
94-67 (1st)
Acquisitions: Edwin Encarnacion, Boone Logan
Key Transaction: Signing Edwin Encarnacion
Analysis: The Tribe came within four outs of losing the 2016 World Series until Rajai Davis hit a dramatic game-tying two-run HR in the bottom of the 8th of game 7. And then they lost it anyway. There's an old saying about things not needing fixing if they aren't broken. They got that far with injuries, and adding Encarnacion bolsters a team that was strong to begin with.
Off-Season Grade: B+
Forecast: 1st in AL Central

Detroit Tigers
86-75 (2nd)
Acquisitions: Alex Avila
Key Transaction: Alex Avila, by default
Analysis: They did next to nothing, only bringing back long time Tigers Avila and Omar Infante (the latter to a minor league deal). They seem to be resigned to standing pat. Terrible for a team that has a core of players that may be in their final homestretch and failed to make the playoffs last year.
Off-Season Grade: D
Forecast: 2nd in AL Central

Kansas City Royals
81-81 (3rd)
Acquisitions: Jorge Soler, Jason Hammel, Brandon Moss
Key Transaction: Signing Jason Hammel
Analysis: The Royals have a hard season ahead, with the loss of pitcher Yordano Ventura who was killed in a car accident in the off-season. Signing Jason Hammel will fill in the position, but the Royals have lost a bit of their personality that can't be replaced. A controversial figure, Ventura was nonetheless a big part of their fire, and his loss will be felt not only by the Royals, but by all of baseball.
Off-Season Grade: C+
Forecast: 3rd in AL Central

Minnesota Twins
59-103 (5th)
Acquisitions: Jason Castro, Matt Belisle
Key Transaction: Signing Jason Castro
Analysis: Jason Castro is, in my opinion, an upgrade over Kurt Suzuki. Other than that, the poor stayed poorer.
Off-Season Grade: D+
Forecast: 5th in AL Central


Houston Astros
84-78 (3rd)
Acquisitions: Charlie Morton, Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, Josh Reddick
Key Transaction: Signing Carlos Beltran
Analysis: The Astros have been the most common team mentioned in Jose Quintana trade talks with the White Sox, but the two sides have yet to reach an agreement they can both live with. The problem is that an arm like Quintana could make them the favorite to take the weak AL West, but they won't budge in their hesitance to deal prospects to get him. Also, four years of Josh Reddick .255 with 13 HR and 55 RBI for $6.5 Million a year is a risk.
Off-Season Grade: B-
Forecast: 2nd in AL West

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim California USA
74-88 (4th)
Acquisitions: Luis Valbuena, Brooks Pounders, Danny Espinoza, Ben Revere
Key Transaction: Trading for Danny Espinoza
Analysis: Danny Espinoza was vociferously upset when the Nationals decided to go with Trea Truner at shortstop this season, as it meant he was out of a starting job. SO they traded him to Los Angeles, where now he can try to play with a chip on his shoulder and prove they were wrong for with turner instead of him. He will fail to prove that, because Trea Turner is a modern deity.
Off-Season Grade: C+
Forecast: 4th in AL West

Oakland Athletics

2016: 69-93 (5th)
Acquisitions: Paul Blackburn, Santiago Casilla, Rajai Davis, Matt Joyce, Trevor Plouffe
Key Transaction: Signing Rajai Davis
Analysis: Last season I chided the Indians for having their biggest offseason transaction be Rajai Davis, and he helped them get to the 10th inning of Game & of the World Series. So I am going to go the other way now and say he's the savior Oakland has been desperate for (that should knock him back down a peg). Oakland has too many needs, not enough budget. It would take a miracle for them to finish higher than 4th.
Off-Season Grade: B
Forecast: 5th in AL West

Seattle Mariners
86-76 (2nd)
Acquisitions: Jarrod Dyson, Jean Segura, Caset Fien, Yovani Gallardo, Mitch Haniger, Chris Heston, Carlos Ruiz, Marc Rzepczynski, Shae Simmons, Drew Smyly, Danny Valencia
Key Transaction: Too many to list
Analysis: The Seattle Mariners were in a club with the White Sox and Padres for the past few years; all three teams made big moves at the winter meetings, then failed to make the playoffs yet again. The White Sox have decided to blow it up this season, and the Padres did so about a minute after their big moves each year. The Mariners have gone the other way, and pushed all in, landing a gaggle of free agents and trade targets that should push them into the top spot in the AL.
Off-Season Grade: A
Forecast: 1st in AL West

Texas Rangers
95-67 (1st)
Acquisitions: Andrew Cashner, Tyrell Jenkins, Carlos Gomez, Tyson Ross, Mike Napoli 
Key Transaction: Re-signing Jonathan Lucroy
Analysis: The Rangers have been winning the AL West for the past two seasons, despite having injuries and not making any vast improvements. What they've reigned in this off season is a decent set of pickups, but with what Seattle and Houston have done, this might be the year they fall short, assuming Carlos Gomez doesn't return to what he was three years ago.
Off-Season Grade: C+
Forecast: 3rd in AL West


Atlanta Braves
68-93 (5th)
Acquisitions: Tuffy Gosewich, Sean Rodriguez, Jamie Garcia, Luke Jackson, Mallex Smith, Micah Johnson, Kurt Suzuki, Brandon Phillips
Key Transaction: Trading for Brandon Phillips
Analysis: The Braves had made no illusions about where their team is supposed to be right now, they knew going in they'd have a hard time competing with the Nats and Mets. They've had some terrible luck, signing Sean Rodriguez to platoon with Jace Peterson at second, but a car accident has taken him out for the season. They then went ahead and traded for Brandon Phillips, who finally waived his no trade clause and at the very least will be a name to get butts in the buckets in the new stadium.
Off-Season Grade: B+
Forecast: 5th in the NL East

Miami Marlins
79-82 (3rd)
Acquisitions: Edison Volquez, A.J. Ellis, Dustin McGowan, Jeff Locke, Junichi Tazawa, Brad Ziegler, Dan Straily
Key Transaction: Signing Edison Volquez
Analysis: The Miami Marlins are still hurting from the loss of pitching phenom Jose Fernandez, who died in a boating accident last summer. Edison Volquez will succeed him, but they will still have a hard time replacing him. and they still don't have a strong enough infield. If Dee Gordon stays on the field, and Giancarlo Stanton can stay healthy, they have a shot at a wildcard.
Off-Season Grade: B
Forecast: 2nd in NL East

New York Mets
87-75 (2nd, WC1)
Acquisitions: Jerry Blevins, Fernando Salas
Key Transaction: Resigning Yoenis Cespedes
Analysis: The Mets can't get enough of Yoenis Cespedes. They can't get enough of anything else they need, either. David Wright can't be relied upon to play a full season anymore, and they are overcrowded in the outfield. Juan Lagares is slated to back up Curtis Granderson in center, where the elder has played only 53 games in the past 3 years. Jay Bruce is holding Michael Conforto back, unless he gets starts at first, which is where Wright should be playing if not for Lucas Duda being entrenched there. Too many conrner players, not enough quality up the middle. The pitching is phenomenal, however, which is why the NL East will be a tight division.
Off-Season Grade: C-
Forecast: 3rd in NL East

Philadelphia Phillies
71-91 (4th)
Acquisitions: Joaquin Benoit, Michael Saunders, Clay Buchholz
Key Transaction: Signing Michael Saunders
Analysis: The Phillies are still going to be terrible, at least they didn't blow a lot of cash.
Off-Season Grade: C-
Forecast: 5th in the NL East

Washington Nationals
95-67 (1st)
Acquisitions: Derek Norris, Adam Eaton, Enny Romero, Adam Lind, Matt Wieters
Key Transaction: Trading Danny Espinoza
Analysis: The Eaton deal was a good trade on the surface; they needed a dynamic centerfielder, and the Pirates aren't willing to trade Andrew McCutchen without breaking the bank of whatever team they're sending him to. The Nats gave up a king's ransom to get a somewhat lesser player in Eaton, at least if you look at the entire body of their career. But the coup was sending away incumbent shortstop Danny Espinoza to make room for the new messiah, Trea Turner. He will lead the Nationals, along with Eaton and a resurgent Bryce Harper, back to the playoffs this year. And with Wieters now signed, they have a surplus at catcher, which means they'll deal one of them for a closer (ahem, David Robertson, ahem).
Off-Season Grade: B
Forecast: 1st in NL East


Chicago Cubs
103-58 (1st)
Acquisitions: Jon Jay, Wade Davis, Koji Uehara, Brett Anderson
Key Transaction: Trading for Wade Davis
Analysis: The Cubs are the defending World Series champions. Go ahead and soak that in, a sentence that couldn't be uttered for over a hundred and seven years. They brought us one of the most dramatic championship runs in a long time, and they didn't make many deals because they didn't think they needed to. And maybe they don't. Having lost Aroldis Chapman to the Yankees (whom they got him from in the first place) they got as pretty decent replacement in Wade Davis, and they freed Jorge Soler from his trap by sending him to KC.
Off-Season Grade: B
Forecast: 1st in the NL Central

Cincinnati Reds
68-94 (5th)
Acquisitions: Austin Brice, Luis Castillo, Drew Storen, Scott Feldman, Andrew McKirahan
Key Transaction: Trading Brandon Phillips
Analysis: The Reds finally managed to get Brandon Phillips to waive his no-trade clause, allowing the Reds to move fully forward with their long overdue rebuild. They won't trade Joey Votto, because they still need to draw fans, so they're pretty much broken down as far as they're going to go. So, last place in the Central, and potentially the top draft pick, lies in their future.
Off-Season Grade: B
Forecast: 5th in the NL Central

Milwaukee Brewers
73-89 (4th)
Acquisitions: Neftali Feliz, Tommy Milone, Jett Bandy
Key Transaction: Signing Neftali Feliz
Analysis: Speaking of teams that are in desperate need of a rebuild, the Brewers have Lyin' Ryan Braun and not much else. They signed Neftali Feliz, because they'll have about 10 save situations this season, which is about how many saves he's averaged per year over his career. This is going to be sad, and between the Brew Crew and the Red Machine, forecast calls for inflated win totals for the Cubbies, Cards and Bucs.
Off-Season Grade: C-
Forecast: 4th in the NL Central

Pittsburgh Pirates

2016: 78-83 (3rd)
Acquisitions: Phil Gosselin, Pat Light, Daniel Hudson
Key Transaction: Moving Andrew McCutchen to right field.
Analysis: They get this good a grade solely because moving McCutchen to right allows Starling Marte to take over in center where he belongs. They have some big names coming up (Josh Bell, Tyler Glasnow) but may have lost Jung-ho Kang after his third arrest for D.U.I., and they'll need a big bounce back campaign from Gerrit Cole to have any hope of the playoffs.
Off-Season Grade: C-
Forecast: 3rd in the NL Central

St. Louis Cardinals
86-76 (2nd)
Acquisitions: Chris Ellis, John Gant, Dexter Fowler, Brett Cecil 
Key Transaction: Signing Dexter Fowler
Analysis: The Cards had the best shot of taking the Cubs out of the NL Central top spot, but their hopes took a big hit with the loss of Alex Reyes to Tommy John surgery. Dexter Fowler will make everyone forget Randall Grichuk, even though he's still in the starting lineup, just moving to left. They need big bounce backs from EVERYONE in their rotation... or they may only finish 3rd in this top heavy division.
Off-Season Grade: C+
Forecast: 2nd in the NL Central


Arizona Diamondbacks
69-93 (4th)
Acquisitions: Daniel Descalso, Chris Iannetta,  Juan Graterol, Fernando Rodney, Taijuan Walker, Ketel Marte
Key Transaction: Trading for Taijuan Walker
Analysis: Assuming Shelby Miller was a fluke and will never be the same player he used to be, the acquisition of Taijuan Walker is a necessary step to rebuilding their rotation to compete with the Dodgers and Giants in the NL West. However, Shelby Miller hasn't yet proven he doesn't have what it takes to bounce back. The rotation could be a dominant force, with Zack Grienke, Shelby Miller, Archie Bradley and Patrick Corbin making Walker the best number five starter around. This should be the year the Diamondbacks do what everyone thought they were going to do last season; compete for a playoff spot in the stacked NL West.
Off-Season Grade: B
Forecast: 3rd in the NL West

Colorado Rockies
75-87 (3rd)
Acquisitions: James Farris, Greg Holland, Alexi Amarista, Ian Desmond, Mike Dunn
Key Transaction: Signing Ian Desmond
Analysis: The Rockies have the best 3B in the majors (Nolan Arenado), one of the speediest 2B's around (D.J. LeMahieu), and a SS  that could have won the rookie of the year award were it not for an injury (Trevor Story), so who better to round out that infield at first than a career shortstop who spend last year in the outfield? Look, Desmond was last year's comeback player of the year, in my opinion, and is a great player, but there are other first basemen that would have been better fits. Unless they trade one of their outfielders and move Desmond out there, they're not making the best moves.
Off-Season Grade: C+
Forecast: 4th in the NL West

Los Angeles Dodgers
91-71 (1st)
Acquisitions: Franklin Gutierrez, Sergio Romo, Logan Forsythe, Brett Eibner
Key Transaction: Signing Sergio Romo
Analysis: The Dodgers also resigned Chase Utley, which shows they are content to do just what they have done the past few years; win the NL West and then get bounced in the playoffs. Their other re-signings, Kenley Jansen and Justin Turner, are solid, and the Dodgers aren't looking any worse than they did last season, but there have been no real improvements.
Off-Season Grade: C+
Forecast: 1st in the NL West

San Diego Padres
68-94 (5th)
Acquisitions: Jered Weaver, Trevor Cahill, Pedro Avila
Key Transaction: Signing Jered Weaver
Analysis: The previous two seasons, the San Diego Padres made big waves during the Winter Meetings, and for the past two seasons, the Padres have been terrible. This off-season, apparently, they've decided to play it cool and stay quiet. Not that that will change the in-season results, because the Padres still look like a 70 win team at best.
Off-Season Grade: C-
Forecast: 5th in the NL West

San Francisco Giants

2016: Record (2nd, WC2)
Acquisitions: Nick Hundley, Mark Melancon
Key Transaction: Signing Mark Melancon
Analysis: The Giants haven't made many transactions, but they did pick up a top flight closer. Will that be enough to keep the Arizona Diamondbacks at bay? This is going to be an interesting race in a tight division.
Off-Season Grade: C
Forecast: 2nd in the NL West

Playoff Teams:
AL MVP: Mike Trout
NL MVP: Mike Rizzo
AL Cy Young: Chris Sale
NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw
AL ROY: Andrew Benintendi
NL ROY: Dansby Swanson
Comeback Player of the Year: Shelby Miller

Sunday, February 05, 2017

2016-2017 NFL Picks: Super Bowl

Regular Season: 164-88-2
Wildcard Weekend: 3-1
Divisionla Weekend: 4-0
Conference Championships: 1-1

Super Bowl
New England @ Atlanta: Atlanta

OK, I'm sure there will be skeptics, but I simply forgot to post that the Falcons were going to win. Here's what I offer as proof:

This is a screen cap of my official Yahoo pick, with the choice locked in before the start of the game. I couldn't have possibly known that the Patriots would look so terrible, though.

Enjoy the game!

(EDIT: HOLY GOD. What a comeback.)