Tag:Jim Leyland
Posted on: February 24, 2012 10:38 am
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Don Zimmer meets the Zim Bear

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Perhaps the most anticipated day of the 2012 season is June 29, when the Tampa Bay Rays will be giving the first 10,000 fans at the game with the Tigers the Zim Bear. A teddy bear with the face of Don Zimmer. Yep.

Anwyay, how does the bear compare with the real thing? Luckily Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune has a camera and can put our imaginations at ease. Here it is:

Don Zimmer

So what does Zimmer think of the bear?

"I don't know what to think," Zimmer told Mooney. Zimmer did note that Tigers manager Jim Leyland has called him several times to give him a heard time about the bear.

Aug. 5 is also going to be pretty awesome, with the DJ Kitty bobblehead.



I haven't done my usual preseason look at all the best giveaways for the season ahead, but it looks like the Rays may be the leader in the clubhouse, or at least until the Brewers do the Ryan Braun specimen bottle giveaway.

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Posted on: February 16, 2012 9:37 pm
 

Inge to compete for Tigers' 2B job

Brandon IngeBy C. Trent Rosecrans

With Miguel Cabrera supposedly taking over at third base, Detroit's Brandon Inge is out of a job.

So, Inge is doing what people do when they get ousted from their job -- they look for a new one. In Inge's case, it's at second base. The Tigers may have two first basemen (and a third when Victor Martinez returns in 2013), but they don't have a proven starter at second base. Going into camp, Ramon Santiago and Ryan Raburn were expected to platoon at second.

Inge, 34, has started 924 career games at third base, none at second. He's also played all three outfield spots and started his career as a catcher.

An All-Star in 2009, Inge hit just .197/.265/.283 with three home runs last season. In parts of 11 seasons, he's hit .235/.305/.388.

"I'm going to play the best team, though. If you're the best second baseman and can produce, that's the way it is," Tigers manager Jim Leyland told reporters on Thursday, including the Detroit News' Tom Gage. "I think it's good. It burt Brandon's bubble a little bit when [the Tigers moved Miguel Cabrera to third], but he thought about it and said, 'You know what? Maybe I can [adjust].' And if he's the best player, I'll play him."

Santiago, a switch hitter, started 40 games at second last season, playing 75 at the position. He hit .260/.311/.384 with five homers.

Raburn played seven different spots last season (DH and all the defensive spots other than catcher, pitcher and shortstop), starting 55 games at second base. He hit .256/.297/.432 with 14 home runs.

Inge is in the second year of a two-year deal and is still owed $6 million.

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Posted on: November 16, 2011 4:27 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 4:54 pm
 

Including playoffs, La Russa top manager



By C. Trent Rosecrans

At last year's Winter Meetings in Orlando there was a motion during the Baseball Writers Association of America's meeting to change the voting for the Manager of the Year Award until after the playoffs. The resolution was overwhelmingly voted down, but it did get me to thinking how Wednesday's choices would have been different had the voting taken place at the end of October rather than the end of September.

For the record, I voted against the measure. I believe the true test of a manager is over 162 games, while the playoffs can sometimes be a crapshoot with moves sometimes magnified more on whether they worked or not, rather than how things often even out over the course of a full season. Heck, the past postseason has turned managers from genius to idiot back to genius in the course of a single series.

Award Season
Kirk GibsonKirk Gibson overwhelmingly won the National League Manager of the Year award, getting 28 of 32 first-place votes. Joe Maddon won the AL award, getting 26 of 28 first-place votes.
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In the American League, Maddon probably still would have won the award, regardless of when the vote was taken (as long as it was after the regular season, he was kind of an afterthought at the beginning of September). In the playoffs, the Rays fell to the Rangers in four games, but it was through no fault of Maddon's. Nobody expected the Rays to go on to the World Series, and they didn't.

None of the three other managers in the American League playoffs -- Texas' Ron Washington, New York's Joe Girardi or Detroit's Jim Leyland -- were seen as having great postseasons, or even good ones. Washington is always criticized for playing his hunches -- including starting Matt Harrison in Game 7 -- while Leyland didn't just Justin Verlander on short rest and engaged in a bunt-fest with Girardi that nearly broke Twitter, meaning Maddon wouldn't have to worry about giving up his crown if the voting were moved.

Had the voting been done after the playoffs, the National League winner would have certainly been different. After leading his underdog Diamondbacks to the playoffs, Arizona manager Kirk Gibson was the overwhelming winner in the National League Manager of the Year award, but just a less than two weeks after 28 of 32 ballots (mine included, for the record) had Gibson on top of their ballots, it might not have been such an easy choice.

While Maddon won the American League award based in part because of the Rays' late run to the playoffs, La Russa did the same in the National League and still finished third in the voting. Maddon's Rays were 9 1/2 games out of the wild card on Sept. 2, while La Russa's Cardinals were the 8 1/2 behind the Braves on that same date and went 17-7 over the rest of the season, winning the wild card on the final day.

La Russa added to that resume in the postseason when the Cardinals made an underdog run to the franchise's 11th World Series title. Along the way he was praised for the handling of his team's pitching staff up until a communication breakdown with his bullpen in Game 5 of the World Series in Texas. At that point, the so-called smartest man in baseball looked clueless and was called worse. Two more wins salvaged that reputation before La Russa retired on top.

Meanwhile, Gibson was roundly criticized for his perceived overaggressiveness early in the series, including a decision to pitch to Prince Fielder in a Game 1 loss. Gibson was then praised after pulling starter Joe Saunders in Game 4 of the NLDS against the Diamondbacks in a win. Overall, the Diamondbacks didn't lose the series because of Gibson's managing, but he did come out with his reputation taking a bit of a hit following the first five postseason games of his managerial career.

Despite the bullpen phone mixup in Texas, there's zero doubt La Russa would have added his fifth Manager of the Year award to his collection had the voting taken place after the playoffs. While Gibson shouldn't be making apologies for winning the Manager of the Year on Wednesday, it's unlikely he'd have it if the voting were done later -- but I'm pretty sure La Russa wouldn't trade his 2011 trophy for the one Gibson' received.

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Posted on: October 16, 2011 1:11 am
Edited on: October 16, 2011 1:25 am
 

In elimination game, Max Scherzer comes up short

Scherzer

By Evan Brunell


ARLINGTON, Texas -- "It's a tough pill to swallow," said Max Scherzer on the Tigers' Game 6 loss in the ALCS to the Rangers, ending Detroit's season.

Scherzer was perhaps most responsible for the Tigers losing, coughing up six runs in just 2 1/3 innings, walking four and punching out just one. Scherzer was erratic from the get-go, and it all caught up to him in a third inning from hell, when he recorded just one out, allowing three runs to cross the plate, plus an additional three charged to him after exiting the game, as Daniel Schlereth and Rick Porcello couldn't stop the bleeding.

"You want to come up huge for your team and be in this type of situation with the World Series on the line," Scherzer said, no doubt flashing back to his days as a child imagining this very situation. "To not pitch to your ability ... when that happens, that's a tough pill to swallow. ... You always want to be the guy to step up and help the team win."

ALCS Coverage
Scherzer, who was clearly hurting from the loss, recorded the third-shortest start of his career over 103 games across the regular season and postseason. His other two shortest stints actually came this year, going just two innings on May 26 against the Red Sox and July 2 against the Giants. However, that was a long time ago. Following the All-Star break, the light came on for Scherzer, posting a fielding-independent ERA in the low 3.00s and checking in with a sterling 4.33 K/BB. For comparison, across the entire year, only eight pitchers bested that mark -- and Justin Verlander was at 4.39. Given his success as of late, it's easy to see why Scherzer said he beat himself on Saturday, with three of his four walks coming in the third and all coming around to score.

"Anytime you start walking that many batters, it's bound to catch up to you," Scherzer said. "That's something I've done a pretty good job of this year, is minimizing the damage. For that to happen at this stage, at this moment, is extremely frustrating for me."

It's not as if Scherzer had struggled earlier in October, either. The right-hander defeated the Yankees in Game 2 of the ALDS, pitched 1 1/3 innings of perfect relief in Game 5, then held the Rangers to three runs in six innings in Game 2 before Nelson Cruz destroyed the Tigers with a walkoff grand slam. All told, going into Game 6, Scherzer's postseason debut saw him post a 2.70 ERA in 13 1/3 innings, walking five and striking out 13. Well, now those numbers are going to be pretty bad.

"He was out of whack for the most part all the way," manager Jim Leyland said. "His control was not good from the get-go, really. And he had a tough time. And we just couldn't stop the bleeding."

One of the most pivotal parts of Game 6 came in the third, when Scherzer thought he had Nelson Cruz struck out on a 2-2 pitch. The first-base umpire disagreed, causing Leyland to howl with rage and Fox announcers to openly question the call. While it's debatable that Cruz did offer, Leyland didn't pull any punches when asked his opinion after the game.

"I do and still will always question the check swing on Cruz," he said. "I thought that was definitely a strike. I thought he definitely swung.'

Cruz would go on to walk, and Scherzer would issue one final walk before being pulled from the game. If Cruz strikes out, the inning may have unfolded a very different way. Recreating the inning around Cruz's whiff projects a score of 6-2 after the inning instead of 9-2. Factor in Detroit scoring two runs in the top of the fifth, and suddenly it's a 6-4 game and anyone's ballgame.

"I thought he went," Scherzer admitted, noting he hasn't seen the replay. "At the end of the day, it still came down to how I managed the rest of the inning and I didn't do a good job of keeping them off the bases. I made more mistakes than just that one."

He made a ton of mistakes, and for that, Detroit is going home earlier than it wanted to.

"It's hard right now," Scherzer admitted, struggling with being able to look ahead to next season. The Tigers will return much of the team, and while Scherzer notes that "we have a pretty darn good team," he just can't think ahead.

"This isn't a good moment. I know life goes on, but ... it's just ... it's tough."

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Posted on: October 16, 2011 12:09 am
Edited on: October 16, 2011 1:22 am
 

ALCS Series Grades: Cruz, bullpen hot for Rangers



By Evan Brunell


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers are headed to the World Series while the Tigers are headed back home now that the ALCS has concluded. Let's grade the series...

ANelson Cruz. A no-brainer.Cruz was a one-man wrecking machine the entire ALCS, and was voted the series MVP. Cruz became the first player in postseason history to hit two extra-inning home runs the same series. Both won games for the Rangers, with the first one making history as the only walkoff grand slam ever hit in October. His six home runs and 13 RBI both set LCS records. He already has 12 postseason home runs in his career over two seasons, which a franchise record and already in the top 15 all-time. Seriously, what more can you say about Cruz?

BThe Rangers bullpen. Seriously, how insane was the Rangers bullpen? Let's count the ways. The Rangers bullpen was responsible for all of the Rangers wins, allowing just four runs in 27 1/3 innings (1.32 ERA). The relievers -- headlined by Alexi Ogando (pictured) and Scott Feldman -- allowed just 21 baserunners while punching out 25 en route to becoming the fifth team with at least three wins in a LCS, the last being the 2003 Marlins. Only the 1997 Indians matched the Texas bullpen with four victories. And Ogando? He won his second game of the series in Game 6, the fifth reliever to win two games in an ALCS. He joins Sparky Lyle (1977), Tom Henke (1985), Gene Nelson (1988) and Francisco Rodriguez (2002).

CJustin Verlander. Look, Verlander had a regular season to remember and deserves to win the AL Cy Young, and it will probably be unanimous. But can anyone really look at Verlander's performance in the ALCS and say it was "good?" It wasn't bad, sure, but it certainly wasn't good. In Game 1, Verlander was far from top-notch before he was yanked thanks to weather problems. He lasted four innings and gave up three runs and two walks, striking out five. Then, in Game 5, Verlander tossed 133 pitches over 7 1/3 innings, giving up four runs including a two-run homer to Nelson Cruz, who would be his last hitter of the night. Verlander's pitches were still registering at 100 when he was done, true, and if he didn't come out for the eighth, he would have given up only two runs in seven innings. But that's not what happened. The fact is that he gave up four runs in 7 1/3 innings and that's not particularly great, especially given that it's often very difficult for a team to win in the postseason with their starter giving up four runs. Verlander did fine, but really no more than just fine. Hence this grade.

D
ALCS Coverage
Jim Leyland's managerial decisions. Leyland is a fantastic manager, but one has to wonder how this series would have looked if not for some curious decisions. In Game 4 alone, Leyland presided over two brutal baserunning decisions that, frankly, shouldn't have been made. In the 10th inning, Austin Jackson was on first base and chose to run on his own and was nabbed stealing. That was a colossal mistake, as it took the bat out of Miguel Cabrera's hands and took away a chance for Miggy to come through with a potential game-winning hit.

Speaking of Miggy, he was standing on third base in the 8th inning with a chance to cross the plate with the go-ahead run. But he was sent home on an outfield fly, with all the speed and agility of a freight train, and easily thrown out by Nelson Cruz. Leyland said if the throw was off-line, Cabrera still scores. Yes and no. If the throw was wildly off the mark, anyone could have scored ... but even a bounce, or a trajectory that took Napoli away from the plate still could have been good enough to nab Cabrera, who has zero speed. Yes, Cruz "sometimes" throws erratically. Yes, Alex Avila was up next. I don't care. Bad move.

Leyland also made some curious decisions with the lineup composition and didn't touch Wilson Betemit once the entire series, despite Betemit's bat being better than many who got playing time. And, frankly, he left Max Scherzer in the game far too long in Game 6. It was an elimination game. When something's not working, you move on fast.

FWeather. Rain was a constant presence during the ALCS, with two separate rain delays in Game 1 fouling up both Justin Verlander and C.J. Wilson's starts. Fortunately, however, the pitching rematch of Game 5 was able to be played without any delays. It was only the second game of the series that wasn't affected by rain, although the skies opened near the end of the game and became a deluge shortly after conclusion. Game 2 in Texas was postponed outright, while Game 4 in Detroit saw a pregame delay of just over two hours.

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Posted on: October 15, 2011 11:41 pm
Edited on: October 16, 2011 2:06 am
 

Anatomy of a loss: How Detroit fell in ALCS

Cabrera, Napoli

AnatomyBy Evan Brunell


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Tigers had a massive implosion by Max Scherzer ruin Game 6, and as a result, their season is over as the Rangers advance to the World Series.

Let's take a look at the anatomy of the Tigers' series loss...

1. HEAD: Throughout the series, Detroit talked about taking it one game at a time, battling back from adversity, doing what it could to win each and every contest and not worrying about the past. All that is great, but actions speak louder than words, and the Tigers were horribly demoralized after Game 4's shocking extra-inning loss. In fact, after every loss, malaise filled the Tigers' clubhouse, and how could it not? The team gave its all and every game save the last was close. Every Tiger loss outside of Game 6 came either by a single run, or in extra innings. It was the narrowest of margins ... but they were losses all the same. That wears on you, and even winning Game 5 couldn't wash away all the stink once the series shifted back to Texas.

2. ARM: The Tigers couldn't ride their starting pitching to the promised land, despite entering the series with arguably three aces. Of course, there's Verlander fronting the rotation, but he didn't pitch like an ace in the ALCS. His start in Game 1 was cut short by rain, but by his own admission, his mechanics weren't quite right to start the game, and he ended up giving up three runs in four innings. People like to follow the narrative of Verlander as a great pitcher, but he still coughed up four runs total in 7 1/3 innings in Game 5. As for the other starting pitchers, Max Scherzer was fantastic in Game 2, but gave up a run in the seventh to allow the Rangers to tie, and eventually win, the game... and then, of course, he completely fell apart in Game 6. Doug Fister pitched brilliantly in Game 3, Detroit's first victory. In Game 4, Rick Porcello also turned in an incredible effort, but imploded at the wrong time. Even the bullpen was lacking aside from the heroics of Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde, and Valverde got burned in Game 4.

3. OBLIQUE: The Tigers had two instances of obliques hurting the team. First, Delmon Young was left off the ALCS roster entirely due to suffering an injured oblique in ALDS Game 5 against the Yankees. However, the Tigers lucked into Young improving to the point he was able to replace Magglio Ordonez on the roster when Ordonez needed to be removed due to a fractured ankle. Young played in Games 2, 4 and 5, but racked up a 0-for-9 streak, the most at-bats of any player in the series without a hit. He snapped that distinction with two pivotal homers in Game 5, but it proved to be too late for Detroit to win out in the series.

In addition, Victor Martinez hammered a crucial home run in Game 3 to pace the Tigers to victory, but pulled his oblique in the process. The next at-bat, he didn't even offer at one pitch or take swings in the on-deck circle, so you knew he was hurting. He looked stiff and sore in Game 4, so the Tigers lost two of their most important offensive pieces thanks to the oblique injury, which has ravaged baseball all season.


ALCS Coverage
4. LEGS: At this point, I feel guilty for bringing this up for what is probably the billionth time, but I'm still incredulous at the decisions that the Tigers made in Game 4 with regard to baserunning. There are two particular situations that got me. The first was in the bottom eighth after the Rangers tied the game. Miguel Cabrera is on third base with one out. Delmon Young lofts a fly ball to right field, inhabited by Nelson Cruz who is a fine fielder with a rifle for an arm. Cabrera was sent home and was out by a mile. After the game, Jim Leyland said that if the throw was off-line, Cabrera scores. That's a cop-out -- that throw would have had to be incredibly off-line to the point where anyone could have scored. Even a five-hopper would have been enough to tag Cabrera out. It was a dumb move. Period.

In the bottom of the 10th, Austin Jackson stood on first base with one out. Improbably, he opted to steal second base and was gunned down by Mike Napoli. Leyland said he supported the decision -- which Jackson made on his own -- but he better just be covering for his player because that was another bone-headed move. With the throw out, the Tigers removed a man on base and the chance for Miguel Cabrera to hit that inning. Instead, Miggy watched as Ryan Raburn made the third out, then the Rangers put up a four-spot in the top of the 11th.

5. FOOT: Losing Magglio Ordonez was a brutal blow for Detroit, when he re-fractured his surgically-repaired foot in Game 1. Already hobbled due to Young's injury, losing Ordonez severely depleted the Tigers' offense to the point where it was, frankly, a non-entity aside from Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez in the 3-4 spots. There's no telling what Ordonez could have done after hitting .365 after Aug. 12 in the regular season and .455 in the ALDS.

Related video: Tigers manager Jim Leyland speaks on the crushing Game 6 loss:



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Base photo: Wikipedia

Posted on: October 12, 2011 11:37 pm
Edited on: October 13, 2011 1:39 am
 

Porcello dazzles until sixth-inning implosion

Porcello

By Evan Brunell


DETROIT -- Up until things unraveled in the sixth inning, the story of Game 4 of the ALCS belonged to Rick Porcello.

Porcello had been the overlooked pitcher this series, with many openly wondering why manager Jim Leyland didn't choose to push Justin Verlander up a day to start Game 4 once his Game 1 start was cut short by rain delay. It was a fair question, but Porcello showed the world what he could do, becoming just the fifth pitcher to allow two earned runs or less at age 22, the last coming way back in 1995 when Bob Wolcott of the Indians stymied the Mariners.

"I thought he pitched a tremendous game for us," Leyland raved after the game.. "This is an excellent lineup. To do what he did to hold them down like he did, I thought he did a tremendous job. I think he threw the ball exceptionally well. I don't think there's any question about that. He gave us what we wanted and probably a little bit more, to be honest with you."


ALCS Coverage
Porcello's game isn't striking out batters -- it's limiting walks and inducing groundballs, but on Wednesday night he seemed to have everything working to the point where he was a strikeout artist. Porcello notched his sixth strikeout in the fourth inning, one shy of his season-high and the first time since July he had struck out more than five. All this while allowing zero walks and forcing the Rangers to beat the ball in the ground for eight groundouts, seven of them after the fifth inning, and it was simply a superb performance for Porcello.

And yet, the Tigers lost the game after the 11th inning blew up in their faces. Porcello was subdued after the game, even as he was coming off one of the best performances of his career, including a filthy slider he said was probably the best he's ever thrown in his major-league career. "I felt good," Porcello admitted. "My slider was pretty sharp."

The only problem was that Porcello unraveled in the sixth inning, paced by David Murphy's 3-for-3 night and getting burned the third time through the order. Porcello's undoing the entire season has been getting through the lineup for the first time with ease, hitters batting just .229 against Porcello, then giving up hits at a .329 clip once the lineup flipped over. Porcello was able to hold Texas down through the second part of the lineup but the third turn wasn't the charm for the righty, as he gave up hits to five of the nine batters seeing him for the second time. Porcello compounded his own troubles by throwing wildly on an attempted pickoff of Elvis Andrus, allowing Andrus to move to second and score the go-ahead run on Michael Young's single, which snapped a slump for Young.

"Nothing changed," Porcello said about what happened the third time through when Texas put up a three-spot to take the lead in a game they would eventually win 7-3 in the 11th inning. "They hit some good pitches, they hit some bad pitches. That's the bottom line."

Unfortunately for Detroit, the bottom line has Texas one win from the World Series, while the Tigers will have to win three in a row.


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Posted on: October 12, 2011 10:32 pm
Edited on: October 13, 2011 1:39 am
 

Blunders cost Tigers as Rangers blast way to win



By Evan Brunell


DETROIT -- The Rangers rode a four-run 11th inning to victory, taking a commanding 3-1 series lead in the ALCS against the Tigers.

Hero: The Napoli man can. Mike Napoli strode to the plate with runners on first and second in the 11th inning in a tie ballgame. For some reason, skipper Jim Leyland thought it would be a good idea to intentionally walk the 0-for-4 Adrian Beltre in front of Napoli to set up a force, after Josh Hamilton (pictured) doubled to begin the inning. After the game, Tigers manager Jim Leyland said, "You're just trying to set up a double play. I didn't want Beltre and Napoli both to hit against [reliever Jose Valverde]."

Problem: Napoli ripped a single into center field for his second hit of the game, scoring the go-ahead run. Look, Beltre is a dangerous hitter, but so is Napoli. In that situation, I take my risks with Beltre, who is more aggressive at the plate and may still have been hurting from fouling a ball off his knee in Game 3.

ALCS Coverage
Goat: The Tigers tried way too hard to make something happen in the 10th inning when Austin Jackson was gifted first base on a hit by pitch. The Rangers still had to get through Ryan Raburn and Miguel Cabrera to end the inning, and yet Austin Jackson took matters into his own hand and tried to steal second, a move Leyland said he agreed with. Jackson was thrown out at second, which was an idiotic move. You can't take the stick out of Cabrera's hands, especially in the bottom of the 10th inning. Sure, Raburn could have hit into a double-play, but give him that chance instead of risking Jackson being caught stealing. The Rangers wouldn't allow Detroit another chance to win.

Turning point: The Rangers finally broke through for three runs in the sixth to take the lead. The man responsible for the go-ahead run in Michael Young had been struggling all postseason long, but finally came through in a big spot by singling in Elvis Andrus. David Murphy opened the sixth with a single, then after a popout, Ian Kinsler doubled to deep left where Delmon Young misplayed the carom and allowed Murphy to score. Andrus followed by plating Kinsler, who was on third after stealing a base. A Hamilton flyout and Porcello pickoff error later, Andrus crossed the plate on Young's single to completely deflate the Detroit crowd.
It took a while for the next run to be scored, but extra innings don't happen without this inning.

It was over when... The Tigers kept making mistake after mistake in the late innings and were burned like crazy in the 11th when they intentionally walked Adrian Beltre only to see Mike Napoli deliver a RBI single. But the game wasn't over at that point -- after all, Texas only had a one-run edge. But then Nelson Cruz blasted a three-run homer that put the stamp on the game. Cruz is the only player to ever hit two extra-inning homers in a postseason series.

Next: Detroit will attempt to stave off elimination by sending Justin Verlander to the hill at 4:19 p.m. ET. The Rangers counter with their own ace, C.J. Wilson.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com