The Weekender (Sep. 22-24)

The Story of the Weekend – I couldn’t put this story into any of my typical bullet point categories. In a league where there are plenty of divas, Torrey Smith is not that guy. While he was a child himself, he spent much of his time helping to raise his six younger siblings. By all accounts, he’s a top notch guy and in his second year in the NFL, he is poised to become a star. And on the eve of the biggest game of this young season for the Ravens, he was thrust into the spotlight for the last reason he would have ever wanted. His younger brother was killed in a motorcycle accident. He was wearing his helmet, and alcohol was not a factor. It was simply a 19 year old kid who had a motorcycle accident. Torrey was awakened in the middle of the night and quickly left the team to be with his family. His second tweet of the day summed up where his heart was “@TorreySmithWR – I can’t believe my little brother is gone…be thankful for your loved ones and tell them you love them…this is the hardest thing ever”. In the midst of that pain, he still decided to play Sunday night. His teammates have become family to him and part of the strength he needed was what he would find in the arms of his brothers in the purple and black. So after only 1 hour of sleep, and many hours of mental and emotional trauma, he donned his shoulder pads and went out to honor his brother as well as do the one thing that could serve as both a distraction and a release…play football and play it well. His eyes were red during the pregame. The stadium observed a moment of silence in his brother’s honor before the opening kickoff. And then the Patriots & Ravens resumed what is becoming one of the best rivalries in football and put together an extremely memorable, violent, and beautiful game. And who was the star for the Ravens? The receiver with the broken heart. Smith tallied 127 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns. The teammates that respect him gave different congratulations than normal following his first score. You could tell that it meant more to them as well. In the postgame interview you could hear how completely worn out he was, but you could also tell that he was extremely glad to have been given the opportunity. Now, this week will bring even more challenges. More grieving. More taking care of family. Laying his brother to rest. And professionally, a short week leading up to a Thursday night matchup with Cleveland. I don’t envy what lies ahead, but I do hope for the best for Torrey and his whole family.

The Rising

Minnesota – The good folks in Minneapolis have to be positively giddy. First the Gophers are a surprise and with the drop-off in the Big Ten (plus 2) of much of the league, the buck-toothed faithful are starting to make some noise. On top of that the Vikings, who were the kings of bad luck last year, have been both fortunate as well as good and are 2-1 early in this season following the HUGE surprise victory over San Francisco.

Kansas State – Question 1: How bad of a coach was Ron Prince?! Question 2: How good of a coach is Bill Snyder?! K-State is continuing to grow stronger and stronger and their victory over OU this weekend is now setting up a mammoth matchup at West Virginia in a couple of weeks that very well could be the Big XII –II Championship game.

Florida BCS Schools – Florida State faced a very good Clemson squad and came out with the W, the driver’s seat in the ACC and looks of respect from around the country. Ladies and Gentlemen…the Noles may be back! I could almost put a “ditto” around Florida here. Seemingly the Gators are a couple years ahead of schedule and are ready now to challenge for the SEC East and possibly the SEC championship. And Miami…well, they blew a 19 point lead and dropped into a 14 point hole before bludgeoning the Yellow Jackets and put a little hope back into winning their division.

Atlanta Braves/Falcons – Life in the ATL is going well for the Pro Sports fans. Chipper Jones’ swan song is going to be another trip to the playoffs and will quickly erase the demons of last season’s collapse. Meanwhile, the Falcons are off to a fantastic start and the defense seems to be getting stronger while Matt Ryan gains more and more confidence. With the swooning Saints, this could be another banner year for the dirty birds.

Arizona Cardinals – If you have to read this multiple times, it’s understandable: The Arizona Cardinals are 3-0 and in sole possession of first place in the NFC West. (yeah…read it again). Wow. Probably the most amazing part is that it isn’t a complete fluke. This defense is about ready to be crowned the new Desert Swarm defense and Larry & the Invisibles are beginning to show signs of at least being serviceable and efficient on offense. Take a bow Cardinal fans… all three of you.

Brandt Snedeker – Call me crazy, but if I could only win two tournaments in a year, I’d definitely make one of them the one that wins me the FedEx Cup and over 11 million dollars. Let me repeat that…I’d choose to PLAY 4 ROUNDS OF GOLF AND WIN OVER 11 MILLION DOLLARS!!! Mr. Snedeker…I tip my hat to you and if you need a caddie, or just need to adopt another dependent, please feel free to give me a call.

Bud Selig – Who would have ever thought that we would get to the point where Bud Selig is the undisputed best commissioner in all of sports?! The NBA had a lockout and its commissioner decided to void a trade for no good reason. The NHL is in its second lockout in 10 years. The NFL had a lockout, a injury-bounty scandal, hundreds of concussion lawsuits, and a referee lockout. Oh, and that’s just in the past year!! Meanwhile, Major League Baseball extended its labor peace very quietly, while adding a second wild card to the postseason which has led to spectacular pennant races this year. And Bud knows he’s retiring soon. Well played commissioner…well played.

We are the Fallen

Georgia Tech – I’m pretty sure that if I sat back and tried to come up with two of the worst stomach punch endings to games, I couldn’t come up with much worse than the endings of the Miami & Virginia Tech games. It seems likely that this is just going to be one of those years for the Yellow Jacket faithful. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be bashing my head against my desk for the next hour.

Iowa – I’m pretty sure that when the Hawkeye fans were getting geared up for this season, they didn’t quite foresee a home loss to Iowa State and a loss to Central Michigan before the Big Ten season even got underway. This must be what a 1 minute and 4 second knockout feels like.

New Orleans Saints – We may finally have empirical evidence that coaches do make a difference. I’m sure this revelation isn’t helping Drew Brees or Sean Payton sleep at night. Painful start following an equally painful offseason. It seems pretty unlikely that the Saints will be marching into anything other than a high draft pick.

Idiots That Benched Jamaal Charles – Let me just say, that if you drafted Charles early and then didn’t trust him enough to start him in fantasy in week three more than you trusted, say…Trent Richardson, The Law Firm, or Doug Martin…you are foolish and you deserve to  be 0-3. Why am I ranting about this? Because I’m an idiot…

You and I – The Groundhog saw his shadow… that means 6 more weeks of political ads…

Apple Maps – If you’re going to try to unseat the brain trust at Google at something they are REALLY good at, you might want to have a product that you don’t immediately admit is a “work in progress”. Bad form Fruit-Mongers. (Though somehow I can’t imagine they are really losing much sleep…)

NBC – By starting their seasons early, the peacock got to experience life as the #1 network. But alas, everyone else is starting this week and now they will get to experience life as a Tom Petty chorus… ‘cause they’re FREEEEEE…. FREEE FALLIN’!

Matt Schaub’s Earlobe – Not since 1997 has an earlobe been thrust into the national spotlight so quickly or so violently. From what I’ve seen, it never works out well for the lobe.

Zebras – I really had planned on not bagging on the refs this week, but after last night… well, they will get their own column of reaction. Feel for the zebras (at the zoo). They are getting a bad name out of all of this. Oh, and while I agree that the refs are being asked to do something they aren’t qualified for, please do recognize that no one is currently MAKING them do this job. They have the option to return to their calm and peaceful existence. As for any further analysis on the final play of the game, I don’t think I can say it better than Mr. Posnanski does here, so I’ll just link to it for you:

The Skillet

  • Angels v. Rangers – AL West Rivals with the Angels hanging on by a thread.
  • Rays v. White Sox – Can the Sox finish off the Central?
  • Nationals v. Cardinals – Two likely playoff teams in a critical battle.
  • Saints v. Packers – The desperation bowl. The packers are 1-2 and the Saints are 0-3. Just re-read that and ask what parallel universe we are living in.
  • Giants v. Eagles – Tied at 2-1, this will be a  big boost to the winner in the hotly contested NFC East
  • 49ers v. Jets – Both are a bit stunned to be 2-1 after last weekend, but for completely different reasons
  • Wisconsin v. Nebraska – If Nebraska is going to try to emerge in the Big Ten, they will have to start here.
  • Ohio State v. Michigan State – Which team will be exposed as being not quite as good as they would like you to believe?
  • Texas v. Oklahoma State – OSU needs this to reignite hope. Texas wants to throw its name in the Top 10 discussion.
  • NFL Refs v. Owners – For some reason, even costing the outcome of a game doesn’t feel like it’s going to move this one along.

Categories: Baseball, Fantasy Sports, Football, Sports General

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