Wednesday, April 22, 2009

2009 NFL Draft Preview

This weekend marks the yearly tradition of men sitting around for hours on end, throwing back beers, eating crappy food, and watching what could be called the most repetitive and mundane sports coverage of the year... and loving every minute of it!
That's right, the NFL draft is upon us.  So prepare yourselves for a full day of hearing about the linebacker who is "an absolute beast," the tackle with a "tremendous upside," and the quarterback that teams are "truly in love with."  And if there are no big trades or shocking picks, who cares?  At least you'll enjoy seeing some crazy suits and watching the pained look on a prospect's face as he pretends to be excited to join that team.  
In any case, since everyone else under the sun has a mock draft, so do we!  So check out Errant Balls' breakdown of the top ten picks for the 2009 NFL Draft.

1) DETROIT LIONS (Record: 0-16)
    Offseason Concerns: QB, Offensive Line, possibility that adding teeth to their logo may not be enough to right the ship
    Projected Pick: The Lions will likely go with star quarterback Matt Stafford out of Georgia.  Stafford is the consensus top QB in the draft and supposedly excited at the possibility of hooking up with Detroit's talented receivers.  If you're part of the Lions organization and there is a projected number 1 pick who actually wants to come play it Detroit, you leap on top of him like he's a sick gazelle... or just go with another receiver.
    One Wish: That the "blame it all on Matt Millen" mantra will last through one more winless season.

2) ST. LOUIS RAMS (Record: 2-14)
    Offseason Concerns: Offensive Line, WR, that new coach Steve Spagnuolo's staunch "spell my name right or you're cut" policy will leave the team decimated
    Projected Pick: The Rams will likely look to shore up their front line with the second pick, and settle on the athletic OT Jason Smith out of Baylor.  After the departure of veteran Orlando Pace, there is a huge hole to fill on the offensive line (as well as in the local fast food chain's revenue streams) and Smith would be the perfect fill-in at left tackle.
    One Wish: That RB Steven Jackson continues to boycott all media outlets and thusly remains unaware that star NFL players can demand a trade.

3) KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (Record: 2-14)
    Offseason Concerns: LB, Defensive Line, that Larry Johnson is easily the most likely candidate to be this year's Plaxico Burress
    Projected Pick: The Chiefs hold a hot commodity here for teams looking to trade up for a shot at Mark Sanchez (Rex Ryan may be willing to offer up Kellen Clemens and his entire extended family), but if they hold onto the pick they will likely go with LB Aaron Curry out of Wake Forest.
    One Wish: *That new GM Scott Pioli's ties to the Patriots will somehow prompt New England to offer up players at a ridiculous discount rate (*Note: The Chiefs are the only team whose wish has already come true).

4) SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (Record: 4-12)
    Offseason Concerns: LB, Offensive Line, new coach Jim Mora's complete lack of a Mike Holmgren-esque bushy mustache leaves his upper lip dangerously exposed to the brutal Seattle elements
    Projected Pick: Provided no trades have been made and he is still available, there is little doubt that the Seahawks will go after QB Mark Sanchez out of USC.  Although quarterback is not their most glaring need at the moment, Seattle would love to groom the well-quaffed Sanchez as a replacement for Matt Hasselbeck, who has been suffering from nagging injuries and male pattern baldness for quite some time.  
    One Wish: That new WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh will be even better than he was in Cinci now that he is no longer terrified to be in close quarters with his own teammates.

5) CLEVELAND BROWNS (Record: 4-12)
    Offseason Concerns: LB, WR, the danger of Brady Quinn gay jokes driving their young QB into more public slap fights
    Projected Pick: Defensive tackle B.J. Raji could be the most talented player on the board at this point, but don't be shocked if the Browns decide to take a chance on touchdown machine Michael Crabtree out of Texas Tech.  And seeing as how the odds of a new pair of hands for Braylon Edwards popping up on the draft board are slim to none, this might be the way to go.
    One Wish: That new coach Eric Mangini can shed the "Mangina" nickname he earned in New York and return to the "Mangenius" status he so clearly never earned in the first place.

6) CINCINNATI BENGALS (Record: 4-11-1)
    Offseason Concerns: Offensive line, RB, the possibility of disgruntled WR Chad Ochocinco once again changing his name, this time to Chad Getmethef*ckouttahere
    Projected Pick: The Bengals will likely go with a tackle on either side of the ball with the sixth pick, looking at Andre Smith, Eugene Monroe, and Michael Oher on offense, or possibly going for B.J. Raji on D if he is still on the board.  In any case, the Bengals best bet is to go with whichever player is projected least likely to immediately commit a felony upon his arrival in Cincinnati.
    One Wish: That their often troubled new acquisition Tank Johnson isn't the final piece of the puzzle that will transform the city of Cincinnati into a post-apocalyptic hell not unlike Thunderdome.

7) OAKLAND RAIDERS (Record: 5-11)
    Offseason Concerns: Offensive/Defensive Tackle, WR, possibility that new coach Tom Cable only took the job because Al Davis threatened to eat the souls of his children
    Projected Pick: It is widely believed that the Raiders will go with WR Jeremy Maclin out of Missouri with the seventh pick.  Although most have Michael Crabtree as the higher rated receiver on the board, the speed-happy Raiders will assuredly take the quicker Maclin regardless of who is available.  Upon hearing the news that there is no way he'll wind up in Oakland, Michael Crabtree immediately broke down and wept for joy until he passed out soaked in his own tears.
    One Wish: That Al Davis' senility level doesn't climb high enough on draft day that he demand they use their pick on The Mighty Thor: God of Thunder.

    Offseason Concerns: WR, CB, worry that they may find themselves coach-less after one of Jack Del Rio's neck veins inevitably ruptures
    Projected Pick: Although they did just obtain veteran wideout Torry Holt, the absence of a coked up Matt Jones streaking downfield leaves the Jags with yet another spot open at receiver. They would love to address that with hopes that Michael Crabtree will still be available, but if not, expect them to go after a high profile tackle or linebacker. 
    One Wish: That for the love of God, Byron Leftwich does not manage to lead the Buccaneers to the Super Bowl.

9) GREEN BAY PACKERS (Record: 6-10)
    Offseason Concerns: LB, Offensive Line, that their supposed franchise quarterback has not yet fully committed to the art of gun-slinging
    Projected Pick:  Expect the Packers to address their aging O-line here, taking the highest rated tackle available, and likely landing Andre Smith out of Alabama.  Smith is a safe bet to go at nine, because his poor pre-draft decisions dropped him down a bit, but the NFL has collectively agreed to take him somewhere inside the top ten, under fears that the millions upon millions of dollars he has cost himself may prompt a nationally televised if he slips too far.
    One Wish: *That they will not be forced to spend their Thanksgiving whipping the Lions up and down the field (*Note: The Packers are the only team whose wish has already gone unfulfilled).

10) SAN FRANCISCO 49ers (Record: 7-9)
    Offseason Concerns: Offensive Line, QB, the threat of coach Mike Singletary winding up in jail after taking his pants-dropping motivational methods outside the locker room
    Projected Pick:  The Niners will likely take whatever they can get at this spot, going after the highest available offensive tackle.  If given a choice San Fran would love to improve on their QB situation (they're really showing a shocking lack of confidence in the 3-headed monster that is Shaun Hill, Alex Smith and Damon Huard), but there is no way a top QB prospect is falling to the ten spot.  Besides, even if one did, they'd just mess it all up by grilling the guy on his parents' divorce.
    One Wish: That Jeff Garcia "accidentally" wanders across the bay from Oakland and makes his way onto the Niners' roster.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Final Four in pictures

Sadly, Errant Balls' favorite sporting event of the year, the NCAA Tournament, drew to a close this weekend.  But on the upside, it ended with our UNC Tarheels capping their dominating tourney with a championship and once again left me fighting an impending flood of man tears while CBS rocked Luther Vandross' "One Shining Moment."  Now, having still been unable to completely regain my composure, I'll recap the Final Four weekend for you fans in the best way I know how... with pretty pictures.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

MLB 2009 predictions: American League

With the 2009 MLB season set to kick off in just a few days, we couldn't leave you hanging without part 2 of our annual preview.  So enjoy Errant Balls' predictions for the 2009 season, the American League...

Baltimore Orioles
After enduring yet another disappointing 90 loss season in 2009, manager Dave Trembley will learn the hard way that there is simply no room in the majors for a team with a clean-up hitter named Aubrey.

Boston Red Sox
Red Sox broadcasts will be noticeably less entertaining when commentators are forced to spend their first whole season going from "Manny being Manny" to "Jason Bay being boring and Canadian."

New York Yankees
After a wild offseason full of major spending and steroid scandals, Yankee headlines will be surprisingly dominated by newcomer Nick Swisher, whose carefree attitude and rock and roll music will teach the Bombers that winning isn't everything, and help them learn to enjoy the game again... Hank Steinbrenner will subsequently have him murdered.

Tampa Bay Rays
After dealing with a slow April start, manager Joe Maddon will be forced to explain why they sent star pitcher David Price down to the minors after he enjoyed a 1.08 ERA in spring training.  Revealing a bit of his softer side, Maddon will admit he has a somewhat of a father-son relationship with Price, and that he didn't yet feel comfortable exposing the youngster to Grant Balfour's expletive ridden mound tirades.

Toronto Blue Jays
Spirits among the Blue Jays players will hit an all time low in 2009, when an investigation by Yahoo Sports reveals that the city of Toronto, which has long been pushing for an NFL franchise, is actually trading them for the Buffalo Bills.

Chicago White Sox
Upon finding themselves with a surprising division lead come September, outspoken manager Ozzie Guillen will come under fire for his comments on his starting rotation:  "They really have given it their all this year, and I couldn't ask for more.  I mean, I think I came up in the same draft as (Jose) Contreras and (Bartolo) Colon.  But Jesus, those wrinkly old f*ckers can throw!" 

Cleveland Indians
Controversy will hit the Indians locker room when notorious Major League groupie Alyssa Milano begins dating last year's Cy Young winner Cliff Lee.  Upon learning this, new Indians acquisition Carl Pavano will land in hot water after making publicly disparaging remarks saying that "Cliff is more than welcome to my sloppy sevenths." 

Detroit Tigers
After being cut by the Tigers late in spring training, Gary Sheffield will insist that Jim Leyland (like his other former manager Joe Torre) hates black people.  In a later interview Jim Leyland will clear things up: "My decision to cut Gary was in no way racially motivated.  I do however, hate loudmouth, injury-prone, douchebags who hit .225.  So... there's always the possibility it was that."

Kansas City Royals
First year manager Trey Hillman says he is very excited about the Royals' strong arms on the mound this year, like Mark Redman, Sidney Ponson and Kyle Farnsworth.  "With hurlers like that," Hillman said, "we should have no problem keeping up with the proud Kansas City baseball tradition in 2009."  He then closed his door to the media, and could be heard softly weeping for several hours.

Minnesota Twins
Twins fans' high hopes for phenom pitcher Francisco Liriano, now two and a half years removed from Tommy John surgery, will once again be dashed when it is revealed that the doctors actually repaired the wrong arm and he is lost for the season when his left arm is blown out once again.  On the upside though, upon his return in 2011 the Twins may very well find themselves armed with the league's only switch-pitcher.

Los Angeles Angels of the greater Anaheim metro-area
Trying to avoid a drop off in primal intensity after losing fiery closer Francisco Rodriguez,  manager Mike Scioscia will require vocal cord surgery at the end of the year thanks to screaming like a coked up banshee each time a bullpen pitcher strikes a batter out.

Oakland Athletics
In a resurgent 2009, the A's will make their return to post-season play thanks to the acquisitions of Matt Holliday (a young Jason Giambi-like hitter) and Jason Giambi (an old Jason Giambi-looking gentleman with a mythological gold thong).

Seattle Mariners
Enthusiasm for the return of Seattle's favorite son Ken Griffey, Jr. will plunge severely when a nagging hamstring has the slugger coming out for mid- June batting practice with his trademark backwards hat and riding a Rascal.

Texas Rangers
In an attempt to recover from the hit their image took thanks to the A-Rod steroid scandal, the Rangers will elect to have former President George W. Bush throw out the first pitch on opening day.  Because as plain as day, everyone knows the best way to get America back on your side is to align yourself with George W. Bush.  Goooooooooo Rangers!