Big Ern’s Final Four Selections

2012 Men’s College Basketball

National Semifinals from New Orleans:

Source: nola.com

Kentucky vs. Louisville:

Big Ern’s Pick: Louisville

Kentucky’s top players are playing for everything wrong about college basketball – future salaries, professional draft position, greed.  Their coach has twice been proven a cheater, once in my own state at the expense of its taxpayers.

Louisville has a better coach, plays in a better conference, and is facing its biggest ever rivalry game against this cross-state opponent.  The Cardinals will survive tonight’s test.

Kansas vs. Ohio State:

Big Ern’s Pick: Kansas

Kansas took down, in my eyes, the most talented team in this tournament – North Carolina.  Bill Self has these Jayhawks running a couple of steps faster than everyone else left.  The Big Ten Buckeyes will make this National Semifinal an exercise of attrition, but in the end, the Jayhawks will prevail.

 

Big Ern’s Sweet 16 and Elite 8 Results

Source: nola.com

 East (Boston):Thursday:

Syracuse over Wisconsin         Correct

Ohio State over Cincinnati        Correct

Saturday:

Syracuse over Ohio State          Wrong

West:

Thursday:

Michigan State over Louisville      Wrong

Florida over Marquette                 Correct

Saturday:

Michigan State over Florida        Wrong

Midwest:

Friday:

North Carolina over Ohio                Correct

Kansas over North Carolina State  Correct

Sunday:

North Carolina over Kansas          Wrong

South:

Friday:

Kentucky over Indiana                      Correct

Baylor over Xavier                            Correct

Sunday:

Kentucky over Baylor                       Correct

 

Big Ern’s Record: 8-4

Chipper: A Hall of Famer?

Chipper Jones (Source: wikipedia.org)

Chipper Jones has been one of the most versatile players in Major League Baseball over the course of his 18-year career – all played in Atlanta with the Braves.  Earlier today, he announced that the 2012 season will be his last.  The question circulating among the baseball experts today: “Is Chipper Jones a Hall of Famer?”

Jones’ first season on the Braves Opening Day roster was the 1995 campaign.  Although expected to be the starting shortstop that year, the switchhitter eventually settled more comfortably at third base.  Chipper finished in second place for National League Rookie of the Year behind the Dodgers Japanese flamethrower Hideo Nomo.  The 1995 season concluded with the Braves accomplishing a feat that had eluded them for their entire existence in Atlanta – a World Series Championship (a six-game victory over the Cleveland Indians). 

Jones starred again on the 1996 National League Championship Braves edition.  This time, Atlanta lost to the Yankees in six games, but Chipper Jones had established himself as one of baseball’s best young talents. 

In 1999, Chipper won his first and only National League MVP Award, slugging 45 home runs with a .319 batting average, 110 RBI, and 41 doubles.  The Braves were swept in the World Series by the Yankees that year, but at this point, Jones was one of the best players in all of baseball. 

In the twenty-first century, Chipper shifted to left field in Atlanta.  The Braves haven’t returned to the Fall Classic since 1999, but Jones led Atlanta to NL East Titles every year from 2000-2005 and then to a Wild Card playoff spot in 2010.

Chipper’s legacy will always be matched against two of the game’s all-time great switchhitters: Mickey Mantle and Eddie Murray (both Hall of Famers).

From an offensive perspective, here is the career comparison:

                           Jones               Mantle            Murray

HR                        454                   536                 504

RBI                    1,561                 1,509              1,917

Average               .304                  .298                .287

Hits                    2,615                2,415              3,255

Seasons                18                     18                    21

World Series Rings 1                      7                      1

League MVPs          1                      3                      0

Triple Crowns          0                      1                      0

All-Star Seasons      7                    17                     8

Braves legendary former manager Bobby Cox today made a pitch for his former player to be inducted as a first-ballot Hall of Famer.  Sorry, Bobby, I have all the respect in the world for you, but I have to disagree, not only on the first-ballot selection, but in Chipper’s Hall of Fame status at all. 

As always for a finance guy, the numbers tell the story: 

For Mantle, the 7 World Championships, 1 Triple Crown in 1956, 17 All-Star Selections, and 3 AL MVP Awards are overwhelmingly powerful credentials.  When you factor in the injuries that plagued Mantle for much of his career, there really is no question that The Mick is a Hall of Famer.

For Eddie Murray, the big numbers are 3,255 hits, 504 home runs, and the longevity of 21 Major League seasons with five different teams (most notably the Baltimore Orioles with whom he earned a World Series Ring in 1983 and the Los Angeles Dodgers).  Only 28 players have ever accumulated 3,000 hits.  Only 25 players have ever whacked 500 home runs.  Murray’s 504 dingers puts him last on that list.  Still, the hits and home run totals earn Eddie Murray a seat at an exclusive table of baseball’s all-time greats.

Chipper Jones, although a feared switchhitter for almost his entire career, is not in the class of Mantle or Murray.  A .304 batting average in this era of mediocre pitching, expansion, and performance enhancement is not nearly as impressive as let’s say Jim Rice’s .298 career batting average from 1974-1989 against dominant American League pitching. 

Unfortunately, Chipper also was not a “Primetime Player” in the postseason.  Despite 12 trips to the playoffs in Atlanta, Jones only won one World Series in his first season.  Players are measured heavily according to how they perform on the biggest stages.  And October was not Chipper’s best month.  When I combine his several postseason failures with not sticking around long enough to acquire 500 home runs or 3,000 hits, my final summary is that Chipper Jones has been a very good Major League Baseball player and an All-Star (although in less than half of his big league seasons). But in my eyes, Chipper Jones is NOT a Hall of Famer.

Tebow Jet Lands in Broadway

New York Jets quarterbacks Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow (Source: totalprosports.com)

 Is New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan trying to light a fire under his starting QB Mark Sanchez with the acquisition of Tim Tebow from Denver yesterday?

Can the Jets use Tebow?  Could they arrange him with other offensive playmakers in order to confuse defenses in certain situations?  The kid can run and throw.  I can envision all types of plays: roll outs, reverses (single and double), end arounds, pitches, fleaflickers.  The integration of Tebow in New York adds just one more variable to the already highly complex AFC East!

Big Ern’s Final Four Picks

Now that Big Ern’s been to New Orleans, the path has been cleared for the 2012 NCAA Men’s Basketball Regional Champions (TBD this weekend) to advance to the Crescent City for the Final Four.

 

Source: nola.com

With Final Four picks in Bold, here are Big Ern’s March Madness selections for this weekend:

East (Boston):

Thursday:

Syracuse over Wisconsin

Ohio State over Cincinnati

Saturday:

Syracuse over Ohio State

West:

Thursday:

Michigan State over Louisville

Florida over Marquette

Saturday:

Michigan State over Florida

Midwest:

Friday:

North Carolina over Ohio

Kansas over North Carolina State

Sunday:

North Carolina over Kansas

South:

Friday:

Kentucky over Indiana

Baylor over Xavier

Sunday:

Kentucky over Baylor

Tebow Tour Leaving Denver – Next Stop?

Tim Tebow (Source: Jeff Gross from Getty Images)

 Yesterday, Denver Broncos general manager John Elway said the following about the team’s 2011 starting QB, Tim Tebow: “He’s the type of guy you want to marry your daughter.”  Sounds like a glowing recommendation.  However, this morning ESPN’s Mike Golic labeled Elway’s remark as the kiss of death for an NFL QB.  Golic, a former NFL defensive lineman for the Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins, says he’s heard similar compliments directed toward former teammates – teammates that were really nice guys, but weren’t very good players.  The “marry your daugher” line usually comes shortly before a player is traded or cut, according to Golic.

And so, that appears to also be the case for Tebow.  Before next month’s NFL Draft, the former Heisman Trophy winner is expected to be unloaded from the Broncos’ salary pool.  Peyton Manning is the new sheriff in the Mile High City. 

But where will Tebow land?  ESPN currently ranks the top 3 options as:

Jacksonville Jaguars

New York Jets

Green Bay Packers

The Jets and Packers are head-scratchers for me. 

Jacksonville seems like a logical fit.  Blaine Gabbert is only going into his second season as QB and is extremely inexperienced.  He is by no means penciled in as the solution in Jacksonville.  Perhaps Tebow could spark a revival in that city (with the lowest attendance in the NFL) similar to the Rocky Mountain High from 2011.  There is no expectation of 2012 success in Jacksonville for a rebuilding team. 

What about Kansas City?  Matt Cassel certainly has not lit the world on fire since arriving there in 2009.  Romeo Crennel, the new Chiefs coach, could construct an entirely new offense around Tebow.  Jamal Charles is one of the top running backs in the AFC. 

How about Buffalo?  Sure, Ryan Fitzpatrick is good and we all root for him because he went to Harvard.  But is he going to lead Buffalo to the playoffs from the AFC East?  Could Tebow complement (notice the different spelling here – different meaning and different word) a Bills offense featuring CJ Spiller at tailback?  Could a Tebow-led offense lead Buffalo past the Jets and Dolphins in the AFC East pecking order?  My thought is: possible. 

What is Tennessee going to do?  Although Matt Hasselbeck is a totally different QB than Tebow, BC grads are known to be good teachers.  The Titans also have a Pro Bowl caliber running back in Chris Johnson, who could take some pressure off a young QB. 

Food for thought. 

What are your thoughts?

Classic Colt Rides Out to Wild West and Buckling Broncos

John Elway and Peyton Manning (Source: usatoday.com)

Congratulations to Chris Fitzgerald of Wisconsin.  He’s one of Josh Johnson’s BOYZ.  He was the only ErnBlog member to predict the emergence of Peyton Manning in the Mile High City.

So, it seems that the cornfield midwestern winds have carried Peyton Manning to the Rocky Mountains, where he will join forces with his childhood hero – John Elway.  Elway directed the Broncos to 5 Super Bowls between 1986 and 1998, winning two Lombardi Trophies (’97-98) and one Super Bowl MVP (’98).  Only Tom Brady has played the QB position in as many Super Bowls as Elway.  Elway has promised his friend, Denver owner Pat Bowlen (the only owner in franchise history) that the Broncos will become an NFL dynasty.  The Magnificent Number Seven has now called upon the golden right arm of Manning to ensure Denver’s destiny. 

I had a Bluetooth conference call with NFL experts Dom and Eric this morning to discuss the breaking news:

Paraphrased Conference Call:

Eric: How many years can Denver get out of Manning?  2 or a max of 3?  They gave up Tebow?

Dom: I think Tebow is a good quarterback, but for the money involved, Elway must know that Manning is ready to go.  It’s too bad they (Denver) couldn’t keep Tebow as a back-up, but once again, there’s too much money involved.

Big Ern: I thought Manning fit in better in Miami.  Remember, the Broncos won a very weak division – the AFC West.  I think that last year’s Dolphins may have been slightly more talented than Denver. 

Eric: I agree with Ern – thought Miami was the logical choice. 

Big Ern: Even Houston or Tennessee seemed to be better choices.  Remeber, Denver will have to totally reorganize their offense now.  Peyton is not going to running around at all. 

Dom: That team (Denver) won a division last year.  Those fans are gonna have big expectations, especially now that they’ve added Manning.  Manning is used to pressure, but this coming season, he will face the biggest pressure of his career.

Eric: It will be exciting though.  I do think Denver will be strong this year. 

Big Ern: The Broncos visit New England this season.  Perhaps the Patriots-Peyton rivalry is not dead yet. 

What are your thoughts here?  Tell the ErnBlog what’s on your mind.