Did CM Punk Save the WWE?

This post may be coming out of left field for some of you.  Most of you who know me, knew it was only a matter of time before I would break down and write something covering this subject matter. Now is that time.

I have watched wrestling since I was a little boy and have been a fan for over 20 years.  I remember running and hiding under my bed at the sound of the “gong” and the lights going out in the arena signaling The Undertaker was about to arrive.  To this day I am terrified of snakes because Jake “the Snake” Roberts carried around a 20 foot snake in a bag properly named Damien.  I remember running around my living room with my friend at the time pretending we were the Rockers.  He was older so he always got to be Shawn Michaels and I had to be Marty Jannetty.  I remember crying and screaming at the television when I saw the 1-2-3 Kid sold out to join The Corporation.

As I got older I continued to root for Shawn Michaels (who to this day is my favorite wrestler of all time), I watched WCW change the landscape of wrestling by introducing the New World Order, I watched the WWE respond by unleashing the “attitude era” featuring Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, and Degeneration X.

Up until about a year ago, a few buddies of mine and I would order whatever Pay-Per View was on and go crazy for a Sunday night.  I actually even went to Boston for the Royal Rumble this year back in January.  But that was the last time I actually followed wrestling.  See it was growing very tiresome and very stale.  Taunting small children about how much John Cena sucks was just not fun anymore.  My favorite wrestler retired after last year’s Wrestlemania and I can probably say that was the last time I had a vested interest in wrestling.  I tried to get behind the Miz, and yes I do like him, but he is no Shawn Michaels.

All of that may have changed after last Monday night.  I was clicking around Twitter and I saw a massive amount of “CM Punk just cut the greatest promo” type tweets.  Well I went right to YouTube and watched said promo, practically praying that it was just a semblance of what everyone was raving about.  I watched the six-minute promo and I thought it was easily the greatest gimmick in wrestling since the beginning of the NWO.

Punk broke all the “wrestling rules” talking about the WWE’s competition (Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling).  He called The Rock by his first name.  He said on live television what everyone believes about the WWE.  Cena and everyone else that is promoted and marketed are the best at “kissing Vince McMahon’s ass.”  He even gave a mini shout out to Colt Cabana who is a wrestler in Ring on Honor. He even talked about Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman who left the WWE on bitter terms. Punk broke every rule in the book and is now the talk of the wrestling world.  He threatened to win the WWE Championship and walk out of the company as his contract expires.  No wrestler has ever talked about the “behind the scenes” aspect of the company.  This made everything awesome.

Is wrestling about to “boom” again? I am unsure.  But CM Punk in a short six-minute soliloquy approached NWO, DeGeneration X, and “attitude era” status. I know I will tune in on Monday night for the first time in months.  I also know that with my propensity to be an impulse buyer, if I like what I see, I will buy the next Pay Per View.  CM Punk certainly piqued my interest.  For those that haven’t seen what I am talking about: Here you go.

I can be followed on Twitter @ ScottieNTCF

Patterson’s Week 12 MLB Rankings

With the All Star Break two weeks away, I decided that instead of my usual random blurbs about each team, I will write who I think should be selected to the All Star Game.  I always like to do these things a little early and see how close I come to the actual roster.  Keep in mind that each team needs a representative.  I am doing this based on who deserves the ticket to Arizona, not a popularity contest, that the All Star Game has become.  There are 35 spots on each roster. The starters are in italics.

1) Philadelphia Phillies (1)

Placido Polanco, Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee

2) New York Yankees (3)

Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, Mariano Rivera

3) Boston Red Sox (2)

Adrian Gonzalez, Jacoby Ellsbury, David Ortiz, Josh Beckett

4) Tampa Bay Rays (10)

Ben Zobrist, James Shields, David Price, Kyle Farnsworth

5) San Francisco Giants (6)

Brian Wilson

6) Milwaukee Brewers (4)

Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, Shaun Marcum

7) Atlanta Braves (8)

Brian McCann, Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurgens, Craig Kimbrel

8) Arizona Diamondbacks (7)

Justin Upton, Ian Kennedy, Miguel Montero, JJ Putz

9) Detroit Tigers (11)

Alex Avila, Victor Martinez, Justin Verlander, Brennan Boesch, Jose Valverde 

10) Cleveland Indians (5)

Asdrubal Cabrera, Chris Perez

11) Texas Rangers (12)

Elvis Andrus, Michael Young, Alexi Ogando

12) St. Louis Cardinals (9)

Lance Berkman

13) Washington Nationals (18)

Michael Morse, Drew Storen

14) Pittsburgh Pirates (17)

Joel Hanrahan, Andrew McCutchen

15) Cincinnati Reds (13)

Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce, Francisco Cordeiro

16) Toronto Blue Jays (14)

Jose Bautista, Adam Lind

17) New York Mets (19)

Jose Reyes

18) Seattle Mariners (15)

Michael Pineda, Felix Hernandez,

19) Los Angeles Angels (21)

Jordan Walden, Dan Haren, Jered Weaver

20) Colorado Rockies (16)

Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez

21) Chicago White Sox (20)

Paul Konerko, Phillip Humber

22) Baltimore Orioles (22)

Adam Jones

23) Oakland Athletics (24)

Gio Gonzalez

24) Los Angeles Dodgers (27)

Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw

25) Florida Marlins (23)

Anibal Sanchez

26) San Diego Padres (28)

Heath Bell

27) Kansas City Royals (25)

Alex Gordon

28) Minnesota Twins (26)

Michael Cuddyer

29) Chicago Cubs (29)

Starlin Castro

30) Houston Astros (30)

Michael Bourn

 I can be followed on Twitter @ ScottieNTCF

2011 NBA Mock Draft: NTCF Edition

UPDATE: The Bobcats, Bucks and Kings have agreed to a three-team trade that sends Stephen Jackson to Milwaukee and nets Charlotte the No. 7 pick which they are expected to use on fast-rising Texas PF Tristan Thompson. The Kings meanwhile are said to be targeting Jimmer Fredette at 10.


Charlotte receives the No. 7 overall pick and Corey Maggette, while the Bucks get Jackson, Beno Udrih, Shaun Livingston and the No. 19 pick. The Kings get the No. 10 pick plus John Salmons from the Bucks.

Also, the Wizards have invited staff members of the Czech Republic Embassy to their draft party Thursday night. It’s a clue that the Wiz are planning on taking Czech F Jan Vesely

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – With less than 24 hours before the 2011 NBA Draft in Newark, N.J., at the Prudential Center, numerous questions remain, but one thing is certain. This is a two-player draft. The Cleveland Cavaliers appear primed to take Duke freshman point guard Kyrie Irving, and the Minnesota Timberwolves should take Arizona forward

Potential No. 1 Overall Pick Kyrie Irving

Derrick Williams, but could end up trading him, especially if they can get a young center in return. These two studs are the can’t miss pieces, but several other players could prove to have significant value.

This draft lacks the star power, talent and depth of recent drafts past, but both Irving and Williams have potential to be All-Stars. The youth of Enes Kanter and Brandon Knight make them intriguing prospects, but should need more time to make adjustments to the rigors of the NBA.

There are a few players who could make an impact down the road and one of the top ones is Kemba Walker. Walker put his name on the map, leading the Huskies through the BIG

UConn Star Kemba Walker

EAST and then on to the NCAA Championship. Walker may be a tad undersized, but his scoring prowess and leadership should vault him up the draft board.

There is also an international flavor to this year’s draft. Bismack Biyombo is a virtual unknown out of the Congo, but could be the best defensive player in 2011. There is some question as to how old he really is, but he should still be a lottery pick. Biyombo could be the defensive force that Ben Wallace was, but unfortunately he also shares his offensive prowess.

Jan Vesely should be the first international player off the board, but Jonas Valanciunas could be the best player. Valanciunas could slide to as far as 14 however, because of the uncertainty surrounding his buyout status.

One of the other big “names” in this draft is Jimmer Fredette. “Jimmer Mania” could go

"Jimmer Mania" > Draft Lottery

as high as No.5 (a stretch I know, but Toronto needs all the publicity it can get) and as low as No. 20. Expect Fredette to go in the lottery, but most teams are still unsure if Jimmer will be as productive on the offensive end as he was in college.

Surprisingly, there are a fair amount of seniors this year, which does further point to weakness of this class. Jimmer will probably be the first one off the board, but Providence star Marshon Brooks, NCAA rebounding champ Kenneth Faried, do-it-all Florida forward Chandler Parsons and Purdue standout JaJuan Johnson should all get a look in the first round.

The Celtics are slated to pick at No. 25, but could move up should Danny Ainge become

What is this man thinking?

enamored with someone earlier in the draft. Should they stay where they are, Michigan’s Darius Morris could make a lot of sense. After a picking Avery Bradley last year (a 6’3” SG), taking Morris (a 6’5” PG) could make for a dynamic backcourt with an eye toward the future. Should the C’s look big, they could take a look at JaJuan Johnson, Jeremy Tyler or Kenneth Faried should he slip.

Mock Draft

1. Cleveland: Kyrie Irving, Fr., PG – Duke

2. Minnesota: Derrick Williams, So., F – Arizona

3. Utah: Brandon Knight, Fr., PG – Kentucky

4. Cleveland: Enes Kanter, Fr./19, C – Kentucky/Turkey

5. Toronto: Kawhi Leonard, So., SF – San Diego State

6. Washington: Jan Vesely, 21, SF – Czech Republic

7. Charlotte: Tristan Thompson, Fr., PF – Texas

8. Detroit: Bismack Biyombo, 18*, PF – Congo

9. Charlotte: Jonas Valanciunas, 19, C – Lithuania

10. Sacramento: Jimmer Fredette, Sr., PG – BYU

11. Golden State: Marcus Morris, Jr., PF – Kansas

12. Utah: Jordan Hamilton, So., SF – Texas

13. Phoenix: Kemba Walker, Jr., PG – Connecticut

14. Houston: Chris Singleton, Jr., F – Florida State

15. Indiana: Klay Thompson, Jr., G/F – Washington State

16. Philadelphia: Markieff Morris, Jr., PF – Kansas

17. New York: Alec Burks, So., SG – Colorodo

18. Washington: Donatas Motiejunas, 20, PF/C – Lithuania

19. Milwaukee: Marshon Brooks, Sr., SG – Providence

20. Minnesota: Nikola Vucevic, Jr., C – Southern California

21. Portland: Kenneth Faried, Sr., PF – Morehead State

22. Denver: Tobias Harris, Fr., F – Tennessee

23. Houston: Iman Shumpert, Jr., G – Georgia Tech

24. Oklahoma City: Tyler Honeycutt, So., SF – UCLA

25. Boston: Darius Morris, So., PG – Michigan

26. Dallas: JaJuan Johnson, Sr., PF/C – Purdue

27. New Jersey: Chandler Parsons, Sr., F – Florida

28. Chicago: Josh Selby, Fr., PG – Kansas

29. San Antonio: Davis Bertans, 18, F – Latvia

30. Chicago: Jeremy Tyler, 20, C – Japan

Would this man look good in green?

Pre-Draft NBA Depth Charts

J. Teague J. Johnson M. Williams J. Smith A. Horford
K. Hinrich J. Crawford D. Wilkins J. Powell Z. Pachulia
P. Sy M. Rolle H.Armstrong
J. Collins
E. Thomas
R. Rondo R. Allen P. Pierce K. Garnett J. O’Neal
D. West V. Wafer J. Green G. Davis T. Murphy
C. Arroyo A. Bradley S. Pavlovic
D. Augustin G. Henderson S. Jackson B. Diaw K. Brown
S. Livingston M. Peterson D. McGuire T. Thomas J. Przybilla
S. Collins G. Temple M. Carroll D.Cunningham D. Diop
E. Najera
D. Rose K. Bogans L. Deng C. Boozer J. Noah
C. Watson R. Brewer K. Korver T. Gibson O. Asik
J. Pargo R. Butler B. Scalbrine K. Thomas
J. Lucas
B. Davis A. Parker A. Jamison J. Hickson A. Varejao
R. Sessions D. Gibson C. Eyenga S. Samuels S. Erden
M. Harris A. Gee L. Harangody R. Hollins
J. Kidd R. Beaubois S. Marion D. Nowitzki T. Chandler
J. Barea J. Terry C. Butler B. Cardinal B. Haywood
C. Brewer D. Stevenson I. Mahinmi
D. Jones P. Stojakovic
T. Lawson A. Afflalo D. Gallinari K. Martin Nene
R. Felton J. Smith W. Chandler A. Harrington C. Anderson
G. Forbes M. Ely T. Mozgov
K. Koufos
R. Stuckey R. Hamilton T. Prince C. Wilcox G. Monroe
W. Bynum B. Gordon A. Daye C. Villanuva B. Wallace
T. McGrady D. Summers J. Jerebko
J. Maxiell
Golden State
S. Curry M. Ellis D. Wright D. Lee E. Udoh
J. Lin R. Williwams A. Thornton V.Radmonovic A. Biedrins
A. Law C. Bell L. Amundson
K. Lowry K. Martin C. Budinger L. Scola C. Hayes
G. Dragic C. Lee T. Williams P. Patterson B. Miller
M. Harris J. Hill H. Thabeet
M. Cousin Yao
D. Collison P. George D. Granger T. Hansbrough R. Hibbert
A. Price B. Rush M. Dunleavy J. McRoberts J. Foster
T. Ford L. Stephenson D. Jones S. Jones
J. Posey
Los Angeles Clippers
M. Williams E. Gordon R. Gomes B. Griffin D. Jordan
E. Bledsoe R. Foye A. Aminu C. Smith C. Kaman
W. Warren J. Moon I. Diogu B. Cook
Los Angeles Lakers
D. Fisher K. Bryant R. Artest P. Gasol A. Bynum
S. Blake S. Brown M. Barnes L. Odom T. Ratliff
T. Johnson L. Walton J. Smith
D. Ebanks D. Caracter
M. Conley T. Allen R. Gay Z. Randolph M. Gasol
G. Vasquez O. Mayo S. Battier L. Powe D. Arthur
I. Smith X. Henry S. Young H. Haddadi
M.Chalmers D. Wade L. James C. Bosh J. Anthony
M. Bibby E. House M. Miler U. Haslem J. Howard
J. Jones D. Pittman Z. Ilgauskas
E. Dampier
J. Magloire
R. Rubio W. Johnson M. Beasley K. Love D. Milicic
L. Ridnour M. Webster L. Hayward A. Randolph N. Pekovic
J. Flynn W. Ellington A. Tolliver
S. Telfair
B. Jennings J. Salmons C. Delfino L. Mbah a Moute A. Bogut
K. Dooling M. Redd C. Maggette E. Ilyasova D. Gooden
E. Boykins C. Douglas-Roberts D. Hobson L. Sanders J. Brockmon
New Jersey
D. Williams A. Morrow D. James K. Humphries B. Lopez
J. Farmar S. Vujacic T. Outlaw J. Petro D. Gadzuric
S. Gaines M. West S. Graham B. Wright
New Orleans
C. Paul M. Belinelli T. Ariza D. West E. Okafor
J. Jack W. Green Q. Pondexter C. Landry A. Gray
J. McNeal P. Ewing Jr. J. Smith D. Mbenga
P. Mensah-Bonsu D. Anderson
New York
C. Billups L. Fields C. Anthony A. Stoudemire R. Turiaf
T. Douglas R. Mason B. Walker S. Williams S. Williams
A. Carter A. Rautins R. Balkman D. Brown J. Jeffries
R.Westbrook T. Sefolosha K. Durant S. Ibaka K. Perkins
E. Maynor J. Harden D. Cook N. Collison N.Mohammed
R. Ivey N. Robinson C. Aldrich B. Mullens
J. Nelson J. Richardson H. Turkoglu B. Bass D. Howard
G. Arenas J. Redick Q. Richardson R. Anderson D. Orton
C. Duhon E. Clark M. Allen
J. Holiday J. Meeks A. Iguodala E. Brand S. Hawes
L. Williams E. Turner T. Young M. Speights T. Battie
J. Kapono A. Nocioni D. Songaila C. Brackins
S. Nash J. Dudley G. Hill C. Frye M. Gortat
A. Brooks M. Pietrus J. Childress H. Warrick R. Lopez
Z. Dowdell G. Lawal G. Siler
A. Miller W. Matthews G. Wallace L. Aldridge M. Camby
B. Roy R. Fernandez N. Batum C. Johnson G. Oden
P. Mills E. Williams L. Babbitt E. Barron J. Collins
A. Johnson
San Antonio
T. Parker M. Ginobili R. Jefferson T. Duncan A. McDyess
G. Hill G. Neal J. Anderson T. Splitter D. Blair
C. Quinn D. Butler S. Novak M. Bonner
T. Evans M. Thornton F. Garcia D. Cousins S.Dalembert
B. Udrih M. Daniels O. Casspi J. Thompson H. Whiteside
P. Jeter J. Taylor D. Greene D. Jackson
J. Calderon D. DeRozan J. Johnson A. Johnson A. Bargnani
J. Bayless L. Barbosa L. Kleiza E. Davis R. Evans
M. Banks S. Weems J. Wright J. Dorsey S. Alabi
A. Ajinca
D. Harris C. Miles A. Kirilenko P. Millsap A. Jefferson
E. Watson R. Bell G. Hayward D. Favors M. Okur
R. Price J. Evans F. Elson K. Fesenko
J. Wall J. Crawford R. Lewis A. Blatche J. McGee
M. Shakur N. Young T. Booker Yi H. N’diaye
O. Jeffers M. Evans L. Owens K. Seraphin

Ranking the Boston Champions

There is no doubt the last 10 years have been the greatest 10 years of any sports town in history for Boston.  No other city comes remotely close to having 7 championships in ten years.  So where do I rank those 7 championships? Let’s have a look.

7) 2004 Patriots beat the Carolina Panthers

Tom Brady was a stud in this one as he threw for 354 yards and 3 touchdowns leading the Patriots to a 32-29 win over the Panthers.  Adam Vinatieri was the hero again as he hit a 41 yard field goal to with 4 seconds left to put the Patriots ahead for good.

Memorable Moments: Vinatieri’s game winning field goal; Vrabel’s 2 sacks and touchdown reception; 37 total fourth quarter points

6) 2005 Patriots beat the Philadelphia Eagles

The Patriots winning this Super Bowl cemented the theory that the Patriots were the 2000’s dynasty in the NFL.  Tom Brady started to draw comparisons to Joe Montana.  And perhaps best of all the Patriots beat loud mouth Terrell Owens.  The Patriots also became the first team since the Denver Broncos to win back to back Super Bowls.

Memorable Moments: Branch’s 11 receptions; Rodney Harrison flapping his arms like an eagle after his second interception; Another Vrabel TD reception

5) 2007 Red Sox beat the Colorado Rockies

The Rockies were the hottest team in baseball going into the World Series in 2007 after winning 15 of their last 16 just to make it into the playoffs.  They then swept the division series and league series and were forced to wait as the Red Sox finished their series with the Indians.  This 2007 team was a lot different from the 2004 team as it was a team that was led by Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell.  Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury arrived on the scene as well while old friends David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, and Curt Schilling were still doing their thing.

Memorable Moments: Pedroia’s home run off Francis; Sox come back from 3-1 deficit against Indians in ALCS; Papelbon’s Irish Jig

4) 2008 Celtics beat the Los Angeles Lakers

While I am more of a Celtics fan than I am a Bruins fan, this championship has to fall just below the Bruins.  The Celtics were able to stack their team by trading their roster away to acquire Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett.  Quite frankly, if the Celtics hadn’t of won the championship in 2008 I would have been incredibly disappointed.  But it was pretty sweet to embarrass the Lakers on their home court.  I was also very happy to see Paul Pierce win a title after all the years he put in with the Celtics.

There may not have been a more deserving athlete in Boston than Paul Pierce when he was finally able to raise that trophy high above his head.  Pierce had been in Boston his whole career and never publicly spoke out about how bad the team was or publicly complained.  Sure, he was mad when they stunk, but Pierce stayed quiet and he was rewarded when Danny Ainge got him a true supporting cast for the first time in his career.

Memorable Moments: Pierce in a wheelchair; Mike Breen:”And the Celtics are embarrassing the Lakers”; Ray Allen crossing over Vujacic

3) 2011 Bruins beat the Vancouver Canucks

The Stanley Cup hadn’t been in Boston since 1972.  The Bruins were able to win in overtime of Game 7 against their archrival, the Montreal Canadiens in the opening round, sweep a Flyer team that came back from a 3-0 lead the year prior, and beat the Lightning in Game 7 on their home ice, before capturing the Stanley Cup in Game 7 in Vancouver.  They did it without their best player, Nathan Horton who was knocked into next week by Aaron Rome in Game 3.  They won it with perhaps the most dominating playoff performance ever by a goalie in 37 years young Tim Thomas.

During these playoffs, Zdeno Chara missed time with a dehydration illness, Nathan Horton missed time with his concussion, and they were down in the Montreal and Vancouver series but showed how resilient they were after a season of fans questioning the team’s heart.  These Bruins most certainly had heart.

Memorable Moments: Tim Thomas’ overall performance; Horton’s concussion; Recchi’s last game; Thornton the enforcer; Bergeron getting bit by Burrows

2) 2002 Patriots beat the St. Louis Rams

No one expected the Patriots to stay within 15 points of the Rams in 2002.  Hell, the argument could be made the Patriots weren’t even suppose to be there after Brady fumbl- I mean tucked the football in against the Raiders in the AFC Championship.But Bill Belichick pulled off his best coaching performance in his first Super Bowl win as he was able to slow down “The Greatest Show on Turf.”  The Patriots were able to completely neutralize Marshall Faulk and from there, rookie Tom Brady was able to manage the clock and not turn over the football enabling Adam Vinatieri to kick a game winning 48 yard field goal.  While Brady was named MVP, (16-27 for 145 yards) I will forever argue JR Redmond, Jermaine Wiggins, or the Patriot Defense was far more deserving of the honor than Brady.

The coolest part of this Super Bowl was Bill Belichick having his whole team introduced instead of individual introductions.  This set forth the value of unity amongst a team and started the trend that continues today of teams being introduced rather than individual players.

Memorable Moments: Vinatieri’s field goal; Patriots’ entrance; Madden suggesting Patriots run out clock; The final drive; Wiggins; Redmond; Troy Brown

1) 2004  Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals

It took 86 years for the Red Sox to win the World Series.  They suffered the dreaded Curse of the Bambino.  A stretch that saw Bucky bleepin’ Dent hit a lazy fly ball that landed in the netting of the Green Monster to win the division for the Yankees, they saw a routine ground ball trickle through the legs of Bill Buckner off the bat of Mookie Wilson to push the 1986 World Series to a seventh game, and they saw Aaron Boone hit a walk off home run in 2003 that sent the Yankees to the World Series.  The Red Sox didn’t only not win, they put their fan base through through the most painful of losses.

2004 was especially memorable because they were able to do what no other team in baseball had done before: Come back from a 3 games to 0 deficit to win the ALCS against, yes, the New York Yankees.

Memorable Moments: Roberts steals second; Schilling’s bloody sock; “Don’t let us win this one”; (Fully recognize all the memories are from the Yankee series but can you say you have any memories from the actual World Series?)

***A previous version of this post had Tim Thomas listed as 36 years young.  Thanks to a faithful reader for pointing out that he is 37 years young.

I can be followed on Twitter @ ScottieNTCF

Patterson’s Week 11 MLB Rankings

The baseball season is fast approaching the All Star Break.  This means teams are starting to figure out whether they will be buyers or sellers when the trade deadline rolls around.  At some point this week, I will tell you who the All Stars should be and I will also introduce you to who the buyers and sellers will be come late July.  Until then, enjoy the Week 11 Rankings:

1) Philadelphia Phillies (1)

With all the hype around bringing in Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Roy Oswalt it has been the home-grown Cole Hamels that has been the most impressive this season.  Hamels is 9-2 with a 2.49 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP.  If I had to make the decision, Hamels would be the starter for the National League in the All Star Game.

2) Boston Red Sox (2)

Even with all the wins over the past week, the Red Sox have been stung by the injury bug this week losing Jed Lowrie, Carl Crawford, and Clay Buchholz to the 15 day disabled list.  Marco Scutaro is hitting over .400 in Lowrie’s absence.  JD Drew has had a knack for getting hot in June in years past when someone has gone on the DL. With Crawford out, there is no better time than now for JD to get hot.

3) New York Yankees (6)

Derek Jeter landed on the disabled list being just 6 hits shy of 3,000. Even as a Red Sox fan I will most definitely be cheering him on when he gets that coveted hit.  I have long said the steroid scandal of the late nineties and early 2000’s wouldn’t bother me unless Jeter or Griffey were named as users.  Jeter is clearly on the back nine of his career, and I think people should start to recognize how awesome he was during the course of his career.

4) Milwaukee Brewers (5)

The Brewers are finally showing the potential that I had seen in them in the preseason when I predicted they would win the NL Central.  They already have an awesome offense and now their pitching staff has rounded into shape with Yovanni Gallardo, Shaun Marcum, and Zack Grienke.  John Axford is 19-21 in save opportunities as well.  The Brewers have close to zero weaknesses.

5) Cleveland Indians (8)

The Indians fired hitting coach Jon Nunnally on Sunday.  The Indians are in first place by one game and their offense has been underperforming.  Shin Soo Choo and Carlos Santana have been especially disappointing but help is on the way as Travis Hafner is off the disabled list.  Players aren’t happy with the Nunnally firing saying they don’t understand why he is fired when the team surprised everyone to this point by being in first place.  I side with the players here.

6) San Francisco Giants (7)

The Giants have lost four in a row (three to the lowly A’s) and are now only a half game up on the Diamondbacks in the NL West.  The Giants are the only first place team with a negative run differential in all of baseball.  With Buster Posey and Freddy Sanchez out, Pablo Sandoval has very little protection in the order.  The Giants will not be in first place for very long.

7) Arizona Diamondbacks (11)

Earlier in the season I remember bashing Justin Upton and the Diamondbacks front office because GM Kevin Towers said that if the Red Sox wanted Upton they would have to give up Jacoby Ellsbury, Clay Buchholz, and Daniel Bard.  (I wrote this in my Week 3 rankings).  I would not move any of those guys 1 for 1 for Upton let alone all three.  But an update on Upton:  He is hitting .302 with 12 home runs and 38 runs batted in with 13 steals.

8) Atlanta Braves (4)

Jason Heyward came back from the disabled list this week and it looked as if the Braves were starting to get healthy again.  But to say that Heyward is in a sophomore slump would be putting it mildly.  He is hitting just .215 with 17 runs batted in through 50 games.  At least he has 7 home runs.  The Braves desperately need to get him going.

9) St. Louis Cardinals (3)

The Cardinals are in a bit of a funk for the first time this season after getting swept by the Nationals.  They have lost their vice grip on first place as the Brewers have leaped frogged over them.  Of the 72 games they have played this season, the Birds have gotten only 36 quality starts.  Jaime Garcia and Kyle Lohse account for 17 of those.

10) Tampa Bay Rays (12)

James Shields now has 5 complete games this season and we are still 3 weeks away from the All Star Break.  Last year Roy Halladay led the majors in that category with 9.  The next closest pitcher was Adam Wainwright with 5.  Shields truly has been remarkable this first half of the season and is deserving of a spot on the All Star team.

11) Detroit Tigers (9)

All year I have been on the Tigers because I felt Miguel Cabrera was shouldering the offense on his own.  Well Victor Martinez is hitting .329, Alex Avila is hitting .305 with 41 runs batted in, Jhonny Peralta is hitting .303 with 11 home runs and 43 runs batted in, and Brennan Boesch is at .295 with 10 home runs and 38 runs batted in.  Finally it looks like Miggy has support in the batting order!

12) Texas Rangers (10)

After starting the season 7-0, Alexi Ogando has fallen on hard times in his last two starts getting absolutely rocked.  Earlier in the week he lasted 1.2 innings giving up 6 runs on 6 hits in a losing effort against the Yankees.  Today against the Braves he lasted just 5 innings in a losing effort.  Are the wheels coming off already for the 27-year-old converted reliever?

13) Cincinnati Reds (13)

Last season MVP Joey Votto hit 37 home runs.  To this point in the season he has just 9.  He is still hitting .327 and has 43 runs batted in but the lack of power has to be a concern for the Reds.  If he can find the home run stroke again, he and Jay Bruce (17 home runs so far this year) would be a mini murderer’s row.

14) Toronto Blue Jays (17)

The Blue Jays announced that they have re-signed shortstop Yunel Escobar to a 2 year $10 million deal with club options for 2014 and 2015.  Escobar has been consistent for the Blue Jays so far this season hitting .281 with 8 home runs, 26 runs batted in, and 42 runs scored.

15) Seattle Mariners (14)

Bill Simmons tweeted it best yesterday when he pleaded with the Mariners GM to make a trade for some offense.  Their top 3 pitchers are pitching lights out (Hernandez, Pineda, and Bedard), they have called up their top prospect who is also a top prospect in all of baseball (Dustin Ackley), and Ackley has already homered in just his second big league game.  They are just 1.5 games out of first place and should definitely be buyers at the deadline.

16) Colorado Rockies (18)

Last week I argued with myself about whether Paul Konerko deserves a plaque in Cooperstown.  This week’s edition of “An Argument with Myself”? Does Todd Helton deserve a plaque in Cooperstown.  In 15 seasons, Helton has 2300 hits, 342 home runs, and 1269 runs batted in and is a lifetime .324 hitter. His best season was in 2000 when he led the league in batting average (.372) RBIS (147) and hits (216). He also led the league in on base percentage, slugging, total bases, and OPS.  Helton would get my vote over Konerko even though Konerko has a ring.  And yes, Helton is in.

17) Pittsburgh Pirates (16)

The Pirates continue to get solid starting pitching from Charlie Morton (7-3 3.21), Kevin Correia (8-6 3.60) and Jeff Karstens (4-4 2.54).  With each week that passes, I become more and more surprised that the Pirates are still around the .500 mark.

18) Washington Nationals (24)

Going into Sunday the Nationals have won 8 games in a row which includes a sweep of one of the best team in baseball, the St. Louis Cardinals.  Second baseman Danny Espinosa hit a walk off home run earlier this week.  Espinosa is hitting .233 with 12 home runs and 41 runs batted in on the season.  If he can work on that average, he has the potential to be one of the top second basemen in the game.

19) New York Mets (19)

While all the talk has been centered on Jose Reyes, I completely forgot that the Red Sox let Jason Bay walk as a free agent after the 2009 season only to have the Mets sign him to an $80 million deal over 5 years.  Bay is currently hitting .222 with 2 home runs and 13 runs batted in.  I don’t know if this is a curse of the Mets type of situation or “I’m sure glad the Red Sox didn’t resign that guy” type of situation.

20) Chicago White Sox (21)

Speaking of busts.  Adam Dunn signed a 4 year $56 million deal with the White Sox this offseason.  Dunn has not been able to figure out American League pitching to this point however.  Dunn is hitting .182 with 7 home runs and 29 runs batted in.  Paul Konerko has been just the opposite hitting .327 with 19 home runs and 56 runs batted in.  Remember that Hall of Fame discussion?  If Konerko can keep these numbers up he will be joining Helton.

21) Los Angeles Angels (22)

The Angels released Scott Kazmir this week eating $14 million in salary.  Kazmir was getting rocked in the minors and it was evident that he was not going to factor into the Angels plans this season.  I remember when Kazmir was a stud on the then Devil Rays.  My how times have changed.

22) Baltimore Orioles (20)

What happened to Nick Markakis?  I remember a time when I longed for him to patrol right field at Fenway Park.  This year he is hitting just .256 with 5 home runs and 26 runs batted in.  Markakis was once a player Orioles fans saw as the future of the franchise.  It now looks like that future has come and gone and the Orioles still haven’t made up any ground in the American League East.

23) Florida Marlins (15)

With the Marlins in an absolute freefall losing 17 of their last 18, manager Edwin Gonzalez called the staff and team into a private meeting in the clubhouse letting them all know he was quitting.  It wasn’t that long ago that the Marlins were a top 5 team in baseball this season.  Count me as shocked that they have been as awful as they have been lately. He is the second manager to lose his job this year.

24) Oakland Athletics (27)

The Athletics called up Rickie’s little brother, Jemile Weeks late last week.  I had been calling for this move for quite some time seeing that the Athletics have zero offensive fire power and are especially lacking from the infield positions.  Through 11 games Weeks, is hitting .325 with 3 doubles, 3 triples, and 6 runs batted in.  Since the AL West is wide open, the Athletics have a shot of getting back into the race.  If they do, Weeks will be a large part as to why.

25) Kansas City Royals (26)

While the Royals have some of the best young prospects in baseball, they are all offensive players.  Hosmer, Moustakas, Butler, and Gordon will all help put runs on the board.  But the problem with the Royals is the lack of pitching.  Their best starter is Jeff Francis and his ERA is 4.83.

26) Minnesota Twins (29)

The Twins are slowly starting their ascent up the rankings.  After spending the first 2 months of the season teetering between the 29 and 30 spots, they are 8 games back of the Indians in the AL Central, have won 6 in a row, 8 of their last 10, and are 13-3 in June.

27) Los Angeles Dodgers (23)

Dee Gordon was called up by the Dodgers earlier this week.  He is the top prospect in the organization and is the son of ex-Red Sox Tom “Flash” Gordon.  With how fast the young Gordon runs, it won’t be long before he will be called Flash as well.  Through 11 games, Dee is hitting .326 with 4 stolen bases and a triple.  Gordon has game changing speed that will add an element of excitement to the Dodgers, an organization that could use all the excitement it can get.

28) San Diego Padres (29)

Anthony Rizzo has been unable to bring his hot bat to the major league level.  After tearing the cover off of the ball in the minors, Rizzo is hitting .148 through 9 games.  But in his 4 hits, he has a single, double, triple, and a home run.

29) Chicago Cubs (28)

The Cubs will clearly be sellers when the trade deadline comes around.  The problem is Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Zambrano’s contracts are albatrosses and the Cubs are tied into them for at least 2 more years.  The Cubs have the potential to be very bad for a very long period of time.  As if they haven’t been like that already, seeing that they haven’t made it to the World Series since 1945.

30) Houston Astros (30)

Hunter Pence is scheduled for an MRI on his hyperextended elbow Sunday.  If the Astros lose him for any extended period of time, I am going to have to start ranking them with the Triple A teams.

I can be followed on Twitter at ScottieNTCF

Boston is Again a Hockey Town

No words can recreate the emotion I have just felt and will feel, in any literary sense. The level of fandom relief, joy and triumph felt within my house, my room and my heart hangs only within the final seconds, after what felt like an eternity, and will remain timeless within those seconds forever. I am left speechless, having given no concrete opinions or predictions since the beginning of the 2010/11 season. I will remain forever speechless, and forever privileged to have been a fan of these Boston Bruins. Heart prevailed over skill. Respect prevailed over statistics. The Bruins prevailed over the entire NHL, and are now Stanley Cup champions. Boston is again a hockey town.

Read below, dated January 23, 2011.



It Is All About Game Seven

And it will all come down to a Game 7.  7.  The greatest number in all of sports.  7.
 Especially when it comes to the NHL, there is nothing, absolutely nothing better than a Game 7.

The Bruins have outscored the Canucks 19-8 in the first 6 games of this series. Boston has 216 shots, Vancouver has 194 shots.  The Bruins have 190 hits. The Canucks have 22 hits.None of those numbers matter now.  7 is the only number that means anything.

It doesn’t matter that Nathan Horton was knocked out of the series in Game 3.  It doesn’t matter that Aaron Rome was suspended 4 games said cheap shot.  It doesn’t matter that Alexandre Burrows bit Patrice Bergeron and wasn’t suspended for it.  It doesn’t matter that Roberto Luongo couldn’t last 10 minutes in Game 6.

It doesn’t matter that Tim Thomas didn’t “stay in the paint” on the garbage game winning goal by Maxim LaPierre in Game 5.  It doesn’t matter that either team’s power play hasn’t produced. It doesn’t matter that the home team has gone undefeated in this series.  It doesn’t matter that Tim Thomas has been a wall in net all series.

Nothing from the last two weeks, dating back to June 1, matters.

On Wednesday night the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks will play in one single game that will determine whose names will be engraved on Lord Stanley’s Cup from the 2011 season.  It has been a long, exciting, dare I say epic series to say the least.  It is only justice that the series will be determined in a winner take all game.

Make sure you grab your favorite recliner, bar stool, or space on the floor Wednesday night.  Game 7 is sure to be a classic.

I can be followed on Twitter @ ScottieNTCF