Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, July 9, 2015 at 10:39 AM
THE BASEBALL REPORT: HERE'S OUR ADVICE FOR ALL FUTURE ALL-STAR GAMES
AND THERE'S MORE NFL TEAM-BY-TEAM GLANCES AS WE FOCUS ON THE BRONCOS, STEELERS, CARDINALS AND LIONS
By Jim Hurley:
Memo to Major-League Baseball: It's time to revamp this whole All-Star Game business - once and for all!
Please, we were doing our very best to ignore the whole situation between the out-of-control fan voting in Kansas City to the fact that managers continue to take their players over/above more deserving All Stars from other teams to this now "vote in one more player" junk - and we didn't even mention the fact that this game continues to count in terms of home-field advantage for the World Series - that's something we never liked.
So, enough already!
As one MLB Network host claimed the other day, Baseball is trying to "please" way too many people and it really gets downright ridiculous when you think of how the All-Star Game has evolved over the years (and let's not even get into the fact that most of the last 10-or-12 All-Star Games themselves have been quite boring and we generally look forward to the so-called Mid-Summer Classic) and so here's one loud vote for the players only selecting the All-Star Game starters beginning next year and the respective National and American League managers voting in the reserves/remaining pitchers.
Simply put, you'd have NL and AL players submitting their "starting nine" (plus a designated hitter in the AL, of course) that would include their choice of starting pitchers and you'd have the 15 managers in each league submit a list of reserves plus the remaining members of the pitching staff ... let's say managers could vote for 10 position players and 10 pitchers with total freedom in terms of position, starters or relievers, etc.
In other words, take away the fans' vote once and for all because it's a joke and stop letting the previous year's World Series managers have their picks - they're getting the honor and privilege to manage this game and that should be enough. Really, how many Kansas City Royals must we add to the 35-man AL roster when four of 'em were voted in already by the fans?
And stop putting home-field advantage for the World Series on who wins this game - it's an exhibition game and should stay that way.
Again we go back to a scenario such as this:
Two dead-even teams meet in the 2015 World Series - let's say Kansas City and Washington, for argument's sake - and we have a Game 7 in D.C. solely based on the fact San Diego OF Justin Upton homered off Chicago White Sox lefty Chris Sale to decide matters in the All-Star Game. Great ... two players for last-or-close-to-last-place teams settling the issue as to what team gets home field in a World Series.
In other MLB News & Notes ...
There's been plenty of chatter this season regarding how bunched-up all the teams are in the NL and AL standings but get a load of this:
While heading into yesterday's games, there were eight AL teams that were five games above or below the .500 mark - that's more than half the junior circuit, folks - and conceivably you could see as many as 12 AL teams fit this five-above/five-below .500 category come next week's All-Star Game break.
So, naturally, right now you have all 15 AL teams believing they're all in the playoff chase - so don't be surprised if some teams just on the brink of playoff contention pull off some deals later this month even though a three-game week/weekend sweep here or there could kayo the likes of Chicago White Sox and/or all Oakland A's from any post-season talk ...
Finally, let's just get you up to speed with a few of the categories in the "expanded standings" of MLB:
- The Tampa Bay Rays are 15-8 against lefthanded starting pitchers and just 28-35 when facing righthanded starters;
- The Cleveland Indians have won all four of their games played on artificial turf (all in Tampa Bay);
- The Los Angeles Angels are just 8-14 in day games this season and 37-24 in night games;
- The Washington Nationals are 12-5 against lefty starters (and only 34-33 against righty starters);
- The Chicago Cubs have played in an MLB-high 13 extra-inning games and are 9-4 when playing extra frames;
- And the Los Angeles Dodgers are 40-29 when facing righthanded starting pitchers this year but they're 7-9 when challenged by lefthanded starters.
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers are banging outs lots of winners in Major-League Baseball these days and all you need to do is check in either right here online or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 any time after 1 p.m. Eastern time for the weeknight action, after 11 a.m. ET for weekday games and after 10 a.m. ET for the baseball winners. Plus, the Football Season isn't far off as NFL Preseason action swings into gear on August 9th with the NFL Hall of Fame Game between the Pittsburgh Steelers versus the Minnesota Vikings - can't wait, right?
NFL TEAM-BY-TEAM GLANCES
It is summertime and that means the annual Jim Sez report on all 32 NFL teams with our quick-hitter looks continuing today with the Denver Broncos, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Arizona Cardinals and the Detroit Lions ... and check out our quickie pointspread ditties too:
DENVER (12-5) - All eyes are on rookie OLB Shane Ray who watched his draft stock plummet from a potential top 10 pick all the way down to #23 overall (remember the Broncos traded up five picks with Detroit to land 'em) following an ill-time drug arrest for marijuana possession to go along with a rotten pro day showing last spring. Ray - who everyone claims is a wonderful athlete - does have some foot issues that could slow him down in summer camp but overall the Broncos are hoping he will boost a defense that last year posted better-than-you-think numbers such as being #2 in the league in rushing defense (allowed 79.8 yards per game) and 9th in passing defense (225.4 ypg).
The Broncos didn't collect a single sack in that 24-13 AFC Divisional Playoff home loss to Indianapolis last year after sporting a 41-to-17 sack advantage in regular-season play and now Ray could be an off-the-edge rusher that piles up sacks against one-and-one blockers, so stay tuned.
Pointspread Notes - The Broncos own a solid 20-14 ATS (against the spread) mark in away games the past four years and that includes an amazing 11-1 spread log when playing at fellow divisional rivals Kansas City/Oakland/San Diego.
PITTSBURGH (11-6) - Hey, this is not your big brother's Steelers' defense, you know! The offseason was rife with retirements as CB Ike Taylor, S Troy Polamalu and LB Jason Worilds all called it quits - the latter did so at the age of 26 to "pursue other interests" - and so there'll be some new looks on a stop unit that's also missing one-time/long-time defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau who is now the DC with the Tennessee Titans.
If you wish to pay particular attention to one new Steelers' defensive player than it's got to be first-round draftee DE Bud Dupree (Kentucky) who stands tall at 6-feet-4, 270 pounds as Pittsburgh looks to juice up a pass rush that last year collected only 33 sacks and that was the team's fewest in a season since 1989. Overall, last year's Steelers ranked 27th in the league in pass defense while yielding 253.1 yards a game.
Pointspread Notes - Since the start of the 2010 season, the Steelers are 19-11-1 versus the vig whenever playing divisional foes but note Pittsburgh's failed to cover five of its last six season openers.
ARIZONA (11-6) - Maybe you can excuse the Cardinals' receivers for not having big stat seasons a year ago, thanks in large part to the fact QB Carson Palmer played in just six games before suffering a year-ending knee injury but better believe this NFC West club is looking for WR Michael Floyd (just 47 receptions last year) to step up his game. In fact, Floyd - who did average a team-best 17.9 yards per catch - was said to be dangled as a trade possibility this past spring and then Floyd proceeded to miss some OTA time with a balky hamstring, so you could say the Cards are telling this former Notre Dame star to "step it up" this year or the Redbirds could head in other directions (see WR John Brown and his 48 catches and 5 TDs a year ago) for their aerial production.
Strangely enough, Arizona did not draft a wide receiver this past spring until the seventh round when WR Jamarcus Nelson (UAB) was snapped up with the 159th overall selection.
Pointspread Notes - The Cardinals have been major cash machines the past two years with this NFC West gang going 21-11-1 ATS and did you know that Arizona is 14-7 spreadwise as underdog sides?
DETROIT (11-6) - Here's hoping (for Lions' fans sakes) that RB Joique Bell can back up his late-June prediction that this year he'll rush for "over 1,200 yards". Bell has never rushed for more than 860 yards in any single season and here he's coming off a knee injury that kept him sidelined this past offseason plus there's an Achilles Heel issue to boot. Still, Bell - who averaged 3.9 yards a pop last year while scoring seven of Detroit's 11 regular-season rushing scores - believes he can be the answer for a team that ranked a dismal 28th in the NL in rushing a year ago ... and maybe it's about time somebody took some heat off QB Matthew Stafford (9-2 passing attempts a year ago).
One other thing with these Lions: They better have their act together right from season's start because this NFC North crew plays three of its first four games on the road including season-opening road tilts at San Diego and Minnesota with a Week 4 game in Seattle.
Pointspread Notes -The Lions have failed to produce a single winning spread season since 2010 as the Motowners are a collective 26-39-1 ATS the past four years and that includes a rotten 3-6 spread mark away last year.
NOTE: Get ready for our MLB Report Grades this weekend here at Jim Sez.