Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Celtics still the class of the East

The Lakers lost their first game of last season on the road. By 16. To the Clippers. They also won their second straight NBA title.

Everyone is panicking that the Heat lost a close game on the road to the best team in their conference. Miami played terribly and yet, it was a 3-point game before Ray Allen's huge three-pointer in the final minute.

The "Big 3" of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh combined for just 52 points on 48 shots and if they don't get 65-70 points every night, the Heat just aren't going to win a title (they may not even if they do). But don't forget Wade missed most of the preseason and these guys are all used to being the number-one option. For anyone who thought this wasn't going to take time, this is your proof that it will.

But let's also give the Celtics some credit. They were the Big 3 before Miami signed James and Bosh and have become the Big 4; it's hard not to include Rajon Rondo, who somehow dominates games (17 assists) with no jump shot or consistent scoring ability. He's amazing and is easily Boston's most valuable player.

The Celtics have four players (outside of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett) that would start for Miami over Joel Anthony and Carlos Arroyo: Rondo, Shaquille O'Neal, Glen Davis and Nate Robinson . Yes, I'm saying that the Celtics have seven players better than Miami's fourth best and I can't say that changes even when Mike Miller returns.

That's why Boston won last night. Miami had three of the four best players on the court (I'd take Rondo and maybe even Pierce over Bosh all day), but Boston had the next six. Last I checked, 3-on-7 doesn't add up.

As the season wears on and the Heat develop actual chemistry, they will still be one of the two or three best teams in the Eastern Conference (they already are now). But right now it's clear that the Celtics are better and that won't change much in the year 2010.

The year 2011 may prove different, as Miami gets used to their new look and age potentially catches up with Boston. But people have been expecting a Celtics decline for a couple of years now and it still hasn't happened; they were just a few minutes away from winning another NBA title last year.

Miami may look great on paper, but Boston looks great on the court. To be the best you've got to beat the best and until the Heat can do that, the Celtics are still the Eastern Conference's best TEAM.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Benching=Big Day?

September 21: Braylon Edwards arrested for DWI.
September 26: Edwards misses first quarter against Dolphins, scores 67-yard touchdown to put the Jets ahead for good in third quarter.

Final week in September: Arian Foster misses team meeting, late for another.
October 3: Foster misses almost entire first half, still amasses 189 total yards and 2 touchdowns.

October 22: Kenny Britt gets involved in a brawl at a Nashville night club.
October 24: Britt misses first quarter-and-a-half against Eagles, but still catches 7 passes for 225 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Additional note: All three teams WON THE GAME.

These examples seem to serve as a note to NFL players: Get in trouble in the week leading up to a game, get yourself benched for at least a quarter, come out with a chip on your shoulder and have a big game to lead your team to victory.

Obviously Foster's situation is much different from Edwards' and Britt's, who faced trouble with the law rather than their team, but these breakout games have to be just a coincidence, right?

All NFL players go into every game they play, starting or not, motivated to have a huge day and carry their team to victory, right?

Maybe they do, maybe they don't. But Britt's historic performance yesterday proves that there is no such thing as a distraction to an NFL player, unless you're Brett Favre flashing pictures of yourself through text.

If anything, these players had extra motivation to come out and prove their worth to their respective teams after "letting them down" during the week. It could also help that their opponents likely didn't gameplan much for these guys considering they knew they were missing time and that all three have the top-tier talent to beat any team that doesn't properly prepare for their abilities.

These examples are a terrible lesson to players, though. Go out during the week, get hammered, try to drive home, get into a fight or just plain blow off mandatory team activities. Then come out, play the game you love at a high level for just over half the game, and everything is forgotten.

The football field has long been viewed as a place where players can get away from their troubles in life: for 60 minutes, they can forget about any family or legal issues and just let the adrenaline flow.

After what Edwards, Foster and Britt have done this season, no one seems to be refuting that theory. Don't bench anybody in fantasy football after they've been in trouble; instead, expect big things. And expect a win for your favorite team. It's nothing but basic psychology.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tripodi's Top Teams: Week 7

1(1). Pittsburgh Steelers (4-1) - The only way I could drop this team from their perch atop the rankings would be if James Harrison actually retired after being fined 75k for an illegal hit. Big Ben's first start back resulted in three touchdowns; this team can beat you in so many ways.

2(3). New York Jets (5-1) - People keep talking about the fourth-down pass interference call that pretty much handed the Jets a victory in Denver, but what about all the calls that went the other way during the game? It can be argued that the Jets had to beat the Broncos and the refs and they did just that.

3(5). New England Patriots (4-1) - The Ravens may be a better overall football team, but New England's advantage with Tom Brady at quarterback is unmistakable. Jets-Patriots on a Monday night in early December is going to be one important game.

4(2). Baltimore Ravens (4-2) - Losing to the Patriots on the road is nothing to panic over; a date with the Bills this week should help get Baltimore back on the winning track.

5(6). Indianapolis Colts (4-2) - The Colts head into their bye with questions looming about the injury status of Dallas Clark, who could require surgery on his hand and miss the rest of the season. Losing Clark would be a blow, especially to a team already without Austin Collie, but I think Peyton Manning will be just fine with Reggie Wayne, Pierce Garcon and the forgotten-but-talented Anthony Gonzalez still at his disposal.

6(4). Atlanta Falcons (4-2) - Their overtime win over the Saints in Week 3 keeps them ahead of Drew Brees and company for now but their defensive inconsistencies are worrisome. They've kept the bad teams in check, allowing 40 points against Pittsburgh (sans Roethlisberger), Arizona, San Francisco and Cleveland, but allowed 55 to New Orleans and Philadelphia. They draw the inconsistent Bengals before the bye; I think the defense will show up.

7(7). New Orleans Saints (4-2) - The Saints routed the Bucs on Sunday and the re-emergence of Robert Meachem, who started slow thanks to injury, is helping mask the absences of Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas. That and Chris Ivory averaging over 10 yards per carry.

8(10). New York Giants (4-2) - Many may look at the score and think the Giants played poorly in winning just 28-20 over Detroit. But the Lions did everything in their power to keep Hakeem Nicks under wraps (3 catches, 8 yards) and generally lose close games. Giants fans should love the opportunity to end the Cowboys' season on Monday night. On a side note, Brandon Jacobs is all of a sudden a good soldier? Really?

9(14). Philadelphia Eagles (4-2) - The Eagles looked good at home beating up the Falcons, but DeSean Jackson's injury will rob them of one of their biggest playmakers this week. If Kevin Kolb can stay upright against Tennessee this week, their secondary is beatable even without Jackson.

10(13). Miami Dolphins (3-2) - One's of the league's best-coached teams, Miami marched into Lambeau and beat the Packers in an overtime thriller but host the Steelers this week. A victory would shoot them a few spots up the rankings, but expect them to be just outside the top 10 after next week.

11(15). Tennessee Titans (4-2) - The Titans rolled up a big early lead on Jacksonville and they did it without a huge day from Chris Johnson, who padded his stats with the game out of reach. The Titans will need to keep the pressure up (1st in the NFL in sacks) on Kevin Kolb and prevent him from throwing down the field, as a dinking-and-dunking Kolb gives the Titans a fighting shot.

12(16). Houston Texans (4-2) - What a comeback by the Texans, scoring twice in the final 3:30 to pull out a huge victory against the Chiefs to remain tied with the Colts and Titans atop the AFC South. They get Indy in two weeks out of their bye; could the extra week of preparation help this team finally sweep the Colts?

13(8). Chicago Bears (4-2) - When you lose to the Seahawks, you deserve a hefty fall. The Bears couldn't protect Jay Cutler and if the same thing happens this week against Washington, expect a 4-3 record and another drop down the rankings.

14(9). Green Bay Packers (3-3) - The Pack lost a heartbreaker at home, but the reality is that Green Bay is going to lose to balanced teams that can shut down their one-dimensional offense. They get the Vikings, Jets and Cowboys before their bye, all teams that can really disrupt an opposing passing game. A 3-6 record after nine weeks is definitely possible for this snake-bitten squad.

15(11). Washington Redskins (3-3) - Did I say that Ryan Torain was no Clinton Portis last week? Boy do I look wrong; the supposedly-slow Torain was able to turn the corner on the Indy defense and once he's in the secondary, he's tough to bring down. He won't find the same running room against Chicago's front seven but if the Redskins defenses forces Cutler into turnovers, he won't need it.

16(12). Kansas City Chiefs (3-2) - The Chiefs had the game in hand against a good Texans team and let it slip away. Dwayne Bowe finally woke up with a huge game against a terrible secondary, but if this team can't finish games then they are nothing more than an 8-or-9-win football team. Luckily for them the AFC West is so bad that they might win by default.

17 (NR). Minnesota Vikings (2-3) - It's a lot to say they saved their season against Dallas considering the NFC North may be taken with 9 wins. The Bears' inconsistency should give this team hope, as should Sidney Rice's impending return (potentially in early November). Even if Rice can't return until later in the season having him, Randy Moss and Percy Harvin should make things easier on Brett Favre, as long as his elbow holds up and he keeps his camera phone out of his pants.

18 (NR). Seattle Seahawks (3-2) - No, I don't think the Seahawks are very good. But adding Marshawn Lynch might give this offense enough firepower to stay atop the NFC West, especially with their defense playing like it is. Watch out for the Seahawks?

19 (NR). Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-2) - They just got blown out by the Saints this weekend two weeks after getting blown out by the Steelers. They're nowhere near good enough to stay with a decent team, but they have enough young talent to win the games they have against Cincinnati, Cleveland and Carolina. With four of their next five against St. Louis, Arizona, Carolina and San Francisco, 7-3 is highly unlikely yet within the realm of possibility.

20 (NR). Cincinnati Bengals (2-3) - Another team that isn't very good, but definitely has some potential. If Carson Palmer ever decides to return to the time when he was a perennial Pro Bowler this team could sniff the postseason. But that looks less and less likely with every passing week.

Don't expect me to go past 20...nobody wants to see that.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Big Hits, Big Fines, Big Deal?

The NFL laid out three pretty hefty fines for this weekend's big hits, including 75k for James Harrison and 50k for both Brandon Meriweather and Dunta Robinson. None of those punishments fit the individual crimes.

If the NFL is talking about suspending players, then Meriweather should have been the initial example. If you watch the replay of his hit on a defenseless, airborne Todd Heap, you will see Meriweather coil his legs and launch his helmet straight into the helmet of Heap. His intent is obvious and should be punished as such. Former college teammate Eric Winston agrees.

"I love Brandon to death, but that was a flagrant foul," said Winston. "That's what the league is talking about," Winston said. "Dunta's hit, that wasn't even with the helmet. That was just a collision."

I also agree with Winston's take on Robinson's hit. It looks vicious in fast motion, but keep in mind the insane speed of DeSean Jackson. The same hit on a slower receiver doesn't look half as bad and Robinson's form is textbook, leading with his shoulder into the upper chest area of the receiver.

A slower receiver might not even be concussed by the hit, as the backlash would've been exponentially reduced. To fine a player for a textbook hit just because it causes a concussion is very results-oriented rather than intent-driven and is an unfair way to punish players.

Harrison's fine was larger because he is a repeat offender, having been fined for illegal hits before. He wasn't fined for hitting Josh Cribbs and he shouldn't have been, but his hit on Mohamed Massaquoi was arguably cleaner than the Cribbs one. Harrison doesn't lead with his helmet and if it wasn't for Massaquoi ducking to avoid the hit, there would've been no contact to his head.

The bottom line with these hits is that Meriweather's is really the only punishable one. I know the NFL is trying to prove a point but if you say you're going to suspend players and you have an opportunity, do it. I'd rather see Meriweather suspended for a game with no penalties for Robinson and Harrison then all three get fined.

And with all this hoopla surrounding the weekend's big hits, how can the NFL still legitimately consider an 18-game schedule? Yes, if these hits are properly policed (which I've yet to see) then players may be able to last 18 games but honestly, the only thing I'd like about an 18-game schedule is the replacement of a preseason game with a regular season game, incrementally increasing my profit selling my season tickets.

Many players have already spoken out against 18 games and many have recently spoken out about fines hindering their ability to play the game at a high level. Harrison even said he'd consider retirement. He won't, but the players do have a legitimate gripe.

Robinson's and Harrison's hits were not dirty, were not illegal by the rules and only resulted in penalties due to the results of the hits, not the hits themselves. Heap didn't even suffer a concussion from Meriweather's hit, which was really the only dirty hit (from a very dirty player, dating back to his days at The U).

If the NFL is going to penalize players for illegal hits, they need to focus on the hit and not the result. Meriweather's hit was the worst, but was also the only one that didn't result in a concussion.

Players wouldn't have to change how they play the game to avoid hits like Meriweather's; they would just have to not be scumbags and go after the head of a defenseless player. The NFL is heading down a slippery slope with these punishments and I hope they realize that before it's too late to turn back.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Yankees rotation could be their undoing

The Yankees are sticking with A.J. Burnett in Game 4 and, while they may have no other legitimate options, I think that's a mistake. Burnett has been god awful this season, becoming the first Yankees starter EVER to lose 15 games and post an ERA over 5.00.

In his last 22 starts this year, Burnett was 4-13 with a 6.48 ERA. Add in the fact that the Rangers have one of the most potent lineups in the American League and possibly the majors and you can almost pencil in a New York loss in Game 4, even with young Tommy Hunter on the mound for Texas.

I understand Joe Girardi's explanation behind the decision too. It's one thing to bring C.C. Sabathia back on short rest, but Phil Hughes has never done it and now isn't the time to mess with Hughes, who struggled in Game 2. But Burnett is more useful to the Yankees with a pie in his hands rather than a baseball.

Facing Cliff Lee in Game 3 in a tied series is not an enviable task for the Yanks. Lee has two wins this season against the Yankees in 3 starts, but has allowed 8 earned runs in 23.1 innings, a human number for Lee. But the Yankees are a team that likes to take pitches and tire a pitcher out, something they can't do against a pitcher like Lee who pounds the strike zone so effectively (21 K:0 BB in the postseason).

This isn't to say that Game 3 is a must-win for New York, but they can't afford to go down 3-1 with two games remaining in Texas. The Rangers hit extremely well in their home park and winning Games 6 and 7 there with Lee throwing Game 7 is a daunting task. The Yankees either need to beat Lee in one of his two starts or hope Burnett puts together a decent outing to keep them in Game 4.

I don't see why you can't pitch Sabathia in Game 4, Burnett in Game 5 and keep Hughes on track for Game 6. Momentum is critical in a seven-game playoff series and 3-1 and 2-2 are two very different animals. I'd rather see Burnett toe the rubber tied 2-2 in Game 5 than see Sabathia out there down 3-1.

When the Yankees went out and spend money on Mark Teixeira, Sabathia and Burnett last season I was staunchly against the contract they gave Burnett (5 years, $82.5 million). That money should be reserved for staff aces like Sabathia, Lee, Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum to name a few involved in the postseason. Burnett's stuff is comparable to those pitchers, but his maddening inconsistency will always keep him far from the league's upper echelon of starters.

We've seen that in the past two seasons. Last season Burnett was good and pitched well in the playoffs, helping the Yankees win their 27th World Series. But this season he's been useless while pocketing over $15 million from the organization. And if Lee throws a masterpiece tonight and Burnett blows up in Game 4, the Yankees will probably be watching the World Series from home.

It's not their lineup that's an issue; those guys won Game 1 with an epic 8th-inning comeback. The bullpen has thrown 8 scoreless innings in relief in the series' first two games. If the Yankees lose this series, you can put the blame squarely on the shoulders of their starting rotation. At least it looks that way so far.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tripodi's Top Teams: Week 6

Now that the final undefeated team has dropped, it's team to unveil some power rankings. Let's just say the top is very AFC-heavy.

1. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1) - One of eight one-loss teams remaining and they have been scraping by at quarterback without Ben Roethlisberger. With one of the league's best running games and defenses, the Steelers are looking like an early favorite to make the Super Bowl after starting the season over 20:1 against in Vegas.

2. Baltimore Ravens (4-1) - Baltimore beat Pittsburgh in Week 4, but with Big Ben that game likely turns out differently. The Ravens follow a similar blueprint to the Steelers, but Roethlisberger makes the difference over Joe Flacco here.

3. New York Jets (4-1) - Another situation of "I think the game turns out differently if played today." If the Jets hadn't been so scared to unleash Mark Sanchez in Week 1, they probably beat the Ravens and sit as the NFL's lone undefeated team. That didn't happen, but this team also plays great defense and pounds the run and with the multitude of weapons now at Sanchez's disposal, they're not going away anytime soon.

4. Atlanta Falcons (4-1) - This team was at the top of my first rankings of last season, so you know I like them. Matt Ryan is taking the step forward many expected last season and Atlanta looks like the early favorite in the NFC South.

5. New England Patriots (3-1) - I thought the Dolphins would be better than the Pats this season, but if Patrick Chung and the other young players on this defense continue to make big plays, New England will have enough on that side of the ball to support Tom Brady and the offense even without Randy Moss.

6. Indianapolis Colts (3-2) - Is the Colts defense good or is the Chiefs passing game that bad? If this team starts winning with defense watch out, but I don't see them facing a quarterback as inept as Matt Cassel seems to be every week.

7. New Orleans Saints (3-2) - Yes, the Saints three wins have come against teams with just one win combined. But this team has been hurt by injuries and bad luck, not surprising considering their magical run last season. Once Pierre Thomas and eventually Reggie Bush return from injury, this offense should start to move like it used to once again but until then, they may struggle.

8. Chicago Bears (4-1) - They are only ahead of Green Bay because the Packers now have two stars out for the season and a banged-up quarterback. But they do have a good defense and if Jay Cutler continues to protect the football, you're looking at the NFC North champion by season's end.

9. Green Bay Packers (3-2) - It's hard to leave them too far behind the Bears but without Ryan Grant and Jermichael Finley for the remainder of the season, it's going to be real difficult for the Pack to overtake Chicago. They're still a playoff team but with no running game and their best receiver gone, those Super Bowl hopes seem unattainable.

10. New York Giants (3-2) - This team has looked awesome in their past two games against contending teams. The Giants knocked Jay Cutler out with a vicious pass rush and shut down the league's top rusher in Arian Foster on Sunday, as well as bottling up the Texans passing game. With playmakers on offensive like Hakeem Nicks and Ahmad Bradshaw, the Giants can go a long way if that defense stays hot.

11. Washington Redskins (3-2) - Clinton Portis' ineffectiveness and injuries hurt this team, because Ryan Torain just isn't on the same level as a healthy Portis (which it seems like we haven't seen in ages). But Donovan McNabb is simply a winner and he will continue to do so with a good defense behind him. This team lacks the offensive weapons I see in New York.

12. Kansas City Chiefs (3-1) - I was high on the Chiefs heading into this season as a sleeper to win the AFC West and nothing has changed my opinion on that. The Chargers are poorly coached (just look at their special teams) and the Broncos and Raiders just aren't good. The Chiefs can play defense and have two good running backs, but unless Matt Cassel steps up and Dwayne Bowe finds some stick-um this team will suffer an early playoff exit.

13. Miami Dolphins (2-2) - I still think this is a good football team but they aren't on the level of the Jets or Patriots yet, which is obvious when you lose to both at home. It will be tough for this team to snag a Wild Card in the AFC with two teams likely to make it from both the East and the North, so unless they can overtake the Jets or the Pats this team will probably end up on the outside looking in.

14. Philadelphia Eagles (3-2) - This team has two good quarterbacks (well, one REALLY good one) and one of the league's best young running backs. But their holes on defense will catch up to them and keep them behind the Giants and Redskins for now. But when Michael Vick gets back behind center, anything is possible. As the Colts have shown, a great quarterback can cover up an overall below-average team.

15. Tennessee Titans (3-2) - As Chris Johnson goes, so do the Titans. But it doesn't have to stay that way if Vince Young can continue to take steps forward in his development. Kenny Britt is talented enough to give him a great number-one option and while the defense is questionable at times, they put loads of pressure on opposing quarterbacks and will take advantage of the league's less-experienced quarterbacks.

16. Houston Texans (3-2) - I debated which AFC South team to put higher and while I think Houston's offense is significantly better, Tennessee can hang their defensive hat on a great pass rush. What do the Texans have to brag about defensively? Maybe Brian Cushing's return will help, but I also question whether Matt Schaub can take the next step from fantasy stardom to real-life stardom this season.

Bottom feeders to come soon...maybe.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Boise State to top BCS standings?

A month ago, all I can remember hearing is how Virginia Tech's loss to James Madison meant Boise State was overrated. Fast forward a month later and they're projected to be #1 in the first BCS rankings which come out on Sunday?

What has changed in a month that the Broncos go from overrated to top-rated? For one, Alabama's double-digit loss to South Carolina dropped them to 8th in the polls and a projected 10th in the BCS standings. Somehow undefeated #1 Ohio State is only projected to be fifth, but that's besides the point.

Virginia Tech has won four straight games and leads the ACC Coastal division. Boise State's other notable victory came against Oregon State, another team people loved to question to try and bring the Broncos down.

The Beavers are just 3-2 this season but those losses came against two top 10 teams, TCU and Boise State. They played a third top 10 team this past weekend in Arizona and all they did was pull out a 29-27 victory. Boise State's big wins look much better now, don't they?

The Broncos have done everything they can so far this season to prove they're a legitimate team. Sure they've played some patsies, but the combined score of the three games they played against Wyoming, New Mexico State and Toledo was 167-20. And they scored over 30 points in both games they played against ranked teams. Good teams beat good teams and dominate bad ones. Boise State has done that so far this season.

What else does this team need to do to earn respect around the country? Their remaining schedule, outside of a matchup with #19 Nevada in November, suggests they will likely run the table. And if they're going to be atop the BCS standings in six days and finish undefeated, that says they should be playing for a national title, right?

This is all speculation right now, as far as the BCS standings go and the results for the remainder of the season. But if everything turns out like I described above and the Broncos somehow get left out of the national championship picture, something is extremely wrong with the system. Not that people don't already feel that way anyway.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

MLB Division Series start with a bang

-The Yankees did last night to Francisco Liriano what they do to every starting pitcher they face: work the count, make him reach 100 pitches before the end of the sixth inning and take advantage of him once he starts to miss spots and leave balls up. They may take forever to play their games, but the way they play it sure is effective.

The only pitcher to consistently dominate the Yankees so far this season has been Felix Hernandez, as even studs like Jon Lester and Cliff Lee have had mediocre starts against New York. Don't tell me that former Yankee Carl Pavano, Brian Duensing or Nick Blackburn is going to avoid a similar fate to Liriano. But after Lee's win against the Rays last night, the Yanks may still have to face him if both teams reach the ALCS.

-Segue! Lee turned in the sixth 7 IP, 1 ER or less, 10+ K performance in MLB playoff history. And oh by the way, he had two of the previous five. He is slated to pitch Game 5 if necessary and if Texas can win just one of Games 2-4 (I think C.J. Wilson against James Shields tonight is a great matchup for the Rangers) then I think the Rangers are going to win the series.

The real question is if Tampa takes Games 2 and 3, do the Rangers throw Lee in an elimination Game 4 on three days' rest?. Tommy Hunter would then likely start Game 5 against David Price, a definite mismatch but one that may not happen if Lee doesn't pitch Game 4.

The Rangers can't really afford to lose to Shields and Matt Garza to go down 2-1, but I think there's a legitimate chance they go up 2-0 tonight, as Shields has struggled all season and Wilson's transition from the bullpen has been extremely smooth.

-Saving the best for last, Lee wasn't the only pitcher who has worn a Phillies uniform in the past two seasons to make history last night. Roy Halladay threw the second no-hitter in postseason history in his first career postseason start last night, dominating the Reds lineup and cementing his NL Cy Young award, although the playoffs aren't supposed to affect things like that.

I went into this series thinking Phillies sweep or win in four and nothing from Game 1 has changed that thought (who thought Edinson Volquez would beat Halladay?). The real question is who will they play in the NLDS, the Giants or the Braves?

-Segue #2! The Braves survived a near-collapse late in the season to make the Wild Card, while the Giants stormed up on the Padres to take the NL West. If there is one game in this series where 10 or more total runs are scored I will be floored.

The stars of this series will be the pitchers. Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner for the Giants, Derek Lowe, Tommy Hanson and Tim Hudson for the Braves. I know I'm leaving out hitters like Aubrey Huff and Jason Heyward, but those two guys are going to have to carry these respective lineups as neither team is that strong at the dish.

This series is going to be won with pitching and while the Braves are solid there, the Giants are better. I think the teams will split in each park setting up a Lowe-Lincecum Game 5 matchup. The way Tiny Tim has been pitching of late, I think he'll take the Giants to the next round.