Thursday, May 31, 2007

LeBron vs. OIC in Game 5
LeBron wins in double overtime. Rematch Saturday.


Robert Shrum on John Edwards
While I don't agree with Shrum on much, his account of John Kerry's choice of John Edwards in the 2004 election as a running mate is interesting.
The one thing that strikes me from reading it is how little trust there was between Edwards and Kerry. From the account, you get the sense Kerry never really liked Edwards that much.
But if that was the case, why was he hugging him all the time?


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Cavaliers Game 5
The game tonight may not be the biggest in the history of the franchise, but it's at least in the top three.
The Cavs' season has come down to a best of three games. There may never be a better opportunity to get to the NBA Finals.
Detroit is beatable. Everyone who has watched the last four games knows it. The Pistons are not the defending Eastern Conference Champions as they were a year ago, and Cleveland is not a squad of playoff rookies.
If the first four games taught us anything, it's the talent gap between the two teams is not that wide, and certainly not as wide as it was a year ago.
You can see LeBron James get tougher and tougher by the game. As he gets tougher, so do his teammates.
Rasheed Wallace is a great player. But he's not as good as LeBron, no matter how many times he tries to distract us with his whining and his temper.
I'm not saying the Cavs will win this series, or even win another game.
What I am saying is the opportunity is there. In the history of the Cavaliers, the chance to get to the finals has never been this favorable. It's so close, I get the feeling the fans, and the Cleveland players themselves, can taste it.
You have to worry about the Cavs psyching themselves out and being flat in Detroit. But again, the chance is there. The chance that LeBron James and Daniel Gibson will show up. The chance that Drew Gooden starts realizing his potential. The chance that Zydrunas Ilgauskas, burned so many times by injuries, gets rewarded for his loyalty and desire to fight back.
This is LeBron's team. With a little help, and maybe some luck, it could be his moment.


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Casey Blake wins AL Player of the week
I need to lie down.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Song quote of the day
God bless America
Land that I love
Stand beside her
and guide her
through the night with a light from above -- Irving Berlin


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Thoughts on Game 2
He was FOULED!


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Our best former president
When Jimmy Carter criticized President Bush last week, I was ready to lay in. Carter's assertion that Bush's presidency was perhaps the worst in history struck me as ridiculously stupid, even for someone as historically short-sighted as Carter.
At first, I planned to write a post which would boil down to saying that in Carter's defense, he does know something about being a miserable president.
Still, I keep going back to a conversation I had some years ago with someone who repeated the old, tired line about Carter being a great ex-president.
Carter is, by most accounts, a charitable man, one who has worked to build houses for the needy.
But is that all one has to do to be a good ex-president? More to the point, is that what it takes to be the best?
I knew I could write something, but decided to wait. Christopher Hitchens was bound to write something. And when he did, I knew not only that it would be better than anything I could write, but that I'd post it.
Still, for those who insist Carter is a great ex-president, here is a specific counterpoint involving the first Gulf War:
Many people in retrospect think Bush did a good job in assembling a large multinational coalition, under U.N. auspices, for the emancipation of Kuwait from Iraqi occupation. But Jimmy Carter used his prestige, at that uneasy moment, to make an open appeal to all governments not to join that coalition. He went public to oppose the settled policy of Congress and the declared resolutions of the United Nations and to denounce his own country as the warmonger. And, after all, why not? It was he who had created the conditions for the Gulf crisis in the first place—initially by fawning on the shah of Iran and then, when that option collapsed, by encouraging Saddam Hussein to invade Iran and by "tilting" American policy to his side.
My opinion on those who call Carter the greatest ex-president is that they are simply repeating a phrase. If someone says something wrong once, it's a joke. Twice and it's an odd opinion. Three times and they can teach it as history.
But I can't tell you who started this nonsense. My theory is someone came to the realization that no matter how much time passed, and no matter how old and grandfather-like Carter got, no one was ever going to consider him anything better than a miserable failure in the Oval Office.
So that person decided to create a new title for him: Best Ex-President (or Best Former President, if you prefer).
It's a title that has served Carter well. It has helped people forget the type of president he was.
Luckily for us, almost every time the man opens his mouth, he reminds us.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Taking a shot
My arms were raised when Donyell Marshall let go of the 3 from the right corner last night. The man was wide open, and had made six 3-pointers Friday against the Nets.
Basically, I though the shot was going in.
If it had, the media would likely be celebrating LeBron James' decision to pass the ball in the final seconds.
Instead, the shot missed, and the Cavs lost.
Some in the media (not all, but some) think LeBron should have gone for a layup.
But what makes LeBron who he is is the unselfishness he has.
He trusted his teammate to make a shot. I imagine 8 times out of 10, Marshall would have rewarded him with a make, and perhaps, a win.
The Cavs played really well last night. It's a game they could have and should have won.
I do believe Game 2 is a must win for the Cavs. You may remember Cleveland dropping the first two games in Detroit last year, and then winning three straight. But I think the Cavaliers used up too much energy coming back, both mentally and physically, and that contributed to them losing the final two games of the series.
Game 2 is vital.


Monday, May 21, 2007

Song quote of the day
While you see a chance, take it
find romance, fake it
Because it's all on you-- Steve Winwood


Sunday, May 20, 2007

Interleague's sibling rivalry
My mother grew up in Maple Heights Ohio, and is a lifelong Indians fan. My father was born outside of Dayton, and when I was younger, had a major affiliation with the Reds.
My memories of summer in my childhood are filled with the sounds of static on a car radio, as my dad tried to get Reds games in from WLW in Cincinnati.
I say I've never experienced a real world championship from one of my professional sports teams, but that's not entirely true.
The Reds won the World Series in 1990. I didn't become a huge Reds fan until 1992, and have been one ever since. I was able to love the Reds and Indians almost equally, without consequence.
Then came 1997, and Interleague Play.
This series is always hard for me, but I always chose the Indians, because I'm from Cleveland. That changed in 2004. I'm not sure why, but I think the Reds were winning at the time of the series, and I reason they had a better shot at the postseason (Hah). That and the Reds didn't have Casey Blake on their roster.
So I pulled for Cincinnati, which rewarded me by getting swept.
Since then, I have not really cheered for either team when they match up, instead letting the series play out.
What's funny is my dad isn't much of a Reds fan anymore, having switched to a full Indians fan in the mid-1990s. My aunt, who still lives in Dayton, remains a Reds fan, so we talk about them and pull for them together.
So the good news this weekend was the Indians won 2 of 3. The bad news is the Reds lost 2 of 3.
The series has made me almost indifferent about my favorite sport.
For that, I hate Interleague Play. Actually, I have a 1,000 other reasons.


Friday, May 18, 2007

Song quote of the day
I wish there was something
you could do or say
to try and make me
change my mind and stay
but we never did
too much talkin' anyway
Don't think twice
It's all right-- Bob Dylan


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Hey, it's Cleveland
What? You were expecting the Cavaliers to put away the Nets with fire and energy? The series is not over (even if the Cavs played like it was last night) and fans have been through too much with this franchise to just expect everything to go easily.

Casey Blake Watch
Still hitting .146 with runners in scoring position, but that's not really his fault right now. He has played well the last 10 days, so I'll lay off. If he keeps it up, I won't complain. Much.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Shuffling the Ipod
Five songs at random. And away we go ...
Tea for the Tillerman--Cat Stevens
One of the Cat's most powerful songs, crammed into just over a minute. This song has found new life on Extras. It's too short, though.

Tears in Heaven -- Eric Clapton
This is the original studio recording, which is not quite as good as the unplugged version that was released later. I assume most readers know the story behind this song, and it is without question the most powerful and likely personal ones Clapton ever wrote. And that covers some ground. It's a song about looking for answers when you know you won't find them. And everyone has been through a period like that at some point in their life.
Beyond the door, there's peace I'm sure, and they'll be no more tears in heaven.
The song is moving even now, some 15 years later. That's a credit to how good a songwriter and performer Clapton really is.

There's a Party at My House-- Randy Newman
This is from the Trouble in Paradise record, which I only downloaded because I was going to Los Angeles and wanted I Love LA to listen to. As for this track, it's got some raunchy lyrics and a hummable tune. It's not even scratching the surface of what Newman is as a writer, but maybe that's the point.

Jackie Blue--The Ozark Mountain Daredevils
Dark and yet catchy, this song is not one of the best of the 1970s, but it's pretty darn good. The guitar work is strong, and pushes along at a moderate pace. I only have this because it was on a 70s compilation, but I am glad I do. Somehow I don't think I'd ever get around to buying an Ozark Mountain Daredevils album. Good, good song though.

Jackie Wilson Said-- Van Morrison
On my way to a wedding, my brother and I were listening to this song, and he commented on how a lot of Van's vocal work resembled Wilson's. I'd never thought about it before, but it was very true. This song could be viewed as a tribute of sorts, but it's a terrific song. Then again, it's Van.
One other story about this song came from about two years ago, when the Heidelberg running back coach at the time insisted on interviewing me, just for fun. He asked me what my favorite song, and I said it was Van Morrison's Caravan. He then yelled over to another coach:
"Hey, play some Van Morrison!"
Jackie Wilson Said came on. So now when I hear the song, that's what I think of.


Monday, May 14, 2007

Anyone else worried the Cavs will find a way to screw this up? I get this feeling they'll lose tonight, and turn game five into a must-win. Hope I'm wrong.

Curtis A. tells me he gets a sick joy out of watching the Indians blow games like Sunday's. I know where he's coming from. I get so sick of the Indians never getting called on doing the wrong thing. You have beat writers showing up on team-owned programming, you have announcers saying the Indians should stick with Casey Blake at third because the Indians were 13-3 with him there. As if that's the reason.
Nothing against Casey at this point. He had a great road trip. But I'd like to hear announcers of the Indians say something --anything -- negative about the team without making excuses.
They don't move runners. They are miserable with the bases loaded. Aside from Victor Martinez, they really haven't hit well with runners in scoring position.
Then you have Bruce Drennan having a call-in show afterwards, wearing an Indians shirt. I know he's paid by the team, but still.
We (my brother and I) love the Indians, and always have. But after so much positive programming, you just want to scream, especially when things start going badly.

Mother's Day
I love my mother so much. Curtis A. and I are pretty lucky to have been raised by such a wonderful woman.
My mom has always been my hero. She always puts other people first, and always listens to me. I can't imagine how difficult that is, but she always listens.
She has faith in us, even when we haven't.
If I can be half the person my mother is, I'll be in pretty good shape.

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

May Day
Ever have one of those days where you want to be outside, but you know you can't be, because you were burned after four hours in the sun yesterday?
Lots of things to write about:
- The Cavs didn't play very well Saturday, and now they need to win tomorrow to maintain their advantage over the Nets. What bothered me yesterday was the Cavs seemed to have New Jersey in trouble several times, only to turn the ball over and fall behind again.
Bottom line, Cleveland needs to play better than how it did yesterday. It can't afford another 18-point effort from LeBron James. The good news is LeBron usually follows a poor performance with a strong one. We'll see.
- Forget AAA. Fausto Carmona will be in the All-Star Game.
- I'm watching the Pirates-Braves game on TBS, and the announcers were talking about the Pirates' never-ending rebuilding process.
Few teams in the last 30 years were as talented as Pittsburgh was in the early 1990s. The Pirates had Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonilla, Andy Van Slyke, and some outstanding pitching. Doug Drabek, Bob Walk and Tim Wakefield made for a very solid staff.
The Pirates won three consecutive National League East titles. In 1990, they were heavily favored against the Reds. Cincinnati beat them in six games, mostly in the late innings. If Eric Davis doesn't back up Billy Hatcher, and if Glenn Braggs doesn't rob Carmelo Martinez, who knows what happens?
In 1991, the Pirates had a 3-1 series lead against the Braves. In 1992, they were one out away from the pennant. Neither time did they get it.
What followed was remarkable. Not only did the Pirates suffer a mass exodus after the '92 season, but years of hopelessness followed.
Why was I so skeptical about the Indians rebuilding process when it started?
I remember the Pirates.
And it's still going. I've heard the Pirates have talent, but I've heard and seen that before. Players mature in Pittsburgh, then go somewhere else to win and get paid.
And the fans know it.
In 2005, my friend and I went to PNC Park. It might be the best of all the new ballparks (by new, I mean Camden Yards on). That night, we saw Zach Duke throw a gem against the Rockies. The kids sitting behind us were disappointed, because they thought a good outing would only speed up Duke's exit to a bigger market.
You figure at some point, the Pirates have to get lucky and having a winning season, their first since 1992.
But it may not be this year. The Brewers are running away with the NL Central, and the Pirates are just hanging in.
And time marches on.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The problem with Al Sharpton
Causing an outrage over what Al Sharpton said about Mitt Romney is pointless.
He's a hypocrite. He's a fool. He's an idiot.
But to act offended would be to imply we somehow expected better from the man.
Al Sharpton has not changed much since he arrived on the scene. The problem is not what he says now. The problem is that he has somehow positioned himself as a relavent leader in today's society.
You have to hope that one of these days, someone will actually look at Sharpton and see what he is. He's not a comedian; he's not a crusader.
He's Al Sharpton.


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Batting .1000
Write my most on-point criticism of Casey Blake? He gets two hits and a pair of RBIs.
Doubt the Cavs? They go up 2-0.
I am OK with being wrong though, if it produces results like this.

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I suspect the Cavaliers will lose at least one game at home in this series. That means they have to win in New Jersey to get to the Conference Finals.
If the Cavs really are better than last season, they will win tonight, go up 2-0 and put the series away.
If they aren't, they'll lose tonight and go back East having to win one of the next two games to secure an advantage in the series.
My thought: If the Cavs are better than last year, it's not by much. Talent-wise, they should dispatch New Jersey in no more than six games.
But this is Cleveland. So hold on.


My Casey Blake Argument
Why am I so hard on Casey Blake? At least one reader has been asking quite a bit lately. I emailed Joel, who has been my friend for five years now. I laid out my case, and even though he didn't agree, he suggested I post the email here.
But this is pretty much why I don't like Casey Blake (as a player).

I have no idea if your recent comments on the blog are about Blake or something else. Assuming it is about Blake, I have a number of reasons for being hard on him, and I will continue to do so.
I can't help but say that getting ripped for knocking Blake is funny, from someone who once referred, in print, to Warren Sapp as a "bastard."
It's nothing personal against Blake. I don't know him and have never met him. My comments on the blog are skills related, but are also the result of having this average player shoved down my throat by the Indians brass because he's a nice guy. Every fan has players they don't like.
So here is why, point by point.
* In 2007 he is 2-32 with runners in scoring position.Calling him an automatic out in the situation I referred to yesterday is not "absurd." If you hit .063 in that situation, you are damn close to an automatic out. He also has 10 strikeouts in that situation.
*In 2007, runners in scoring position with 2 outs, 1-17 with six strikeouts (.053).
* In 2007, 0-4 with the bases loaded.
OK, 2006, the season all Blake supporters point to.
* Yes, he started hot, but was slumping when he finally did get hurt. He was close to leading the league in hitting in June, then finished at .282. He's, at best, a streak hitter. My thought was the Indians should trade him after last year, because he did have a decent season. Instead, the Indians continued to treat him like a core player, moving other people to make sure the 33 year-old plays.
* And for those who say Blake is just off to a bad start, consider 2005. He finished with a .241 batting average and 23 homers.
Looking inside those numbers, you see that Blake
* hit .191 with runners on base.
* Hit .171 with runners in scoring position
* Hit .085 (5-59) with runners in scoring position and two out.

OK, now why am I harder on him than Roberto Hernandez or Josh Barfield?
When Blake is struggling, the Indians announcers don't speak the obvious, and for the most part, the beat writers don't either. Sheldon Ocker commented if the Indians were to trade for Alex Rodriguez, it would give the Indians a chance to move Blake back to first or to the outfield. My thought was that Blake could be a servicable bench player. But even the media can't see a lineup without Blake.
Blake has started with the Indians since 2003, the first year Eric Wedge was manager. Both graduated from Wichita State. Blake had never seen serious playing time before, but was plugged in at third base and got 152 starts.
He hit .257 and had 17 homers.
But again, he hit .233 with runners in scoring position and .154 with runners in scoring position and two out.
He hit more homers in 2004 (28) and drove in 88 runs. He also hit .271. But he's an average player being presented as a core player. He was signed to a $4 million contract. Yet when he struggled, after the 2005 season, he wondered if his critics had ever picked up a glove at this level.
Well, no Casey, but we also don't make $4 million.
In 2006, the Indians started their own network with their own programming. They produced a documentary. Who was it on? Hafner? Sizemore? C.C. Sabathia?
No. It was on Casey Blake.
He gets promoted more than anyone else on the team. Yes, he's a good team player. But he's not one of the best players.
My prediction is Blake will stay with the Indians as long as Eric Wedge does.
As for Barfield? He's 23 and a gold glove-caliber player. He's in a new league and he's improving. He was a top prospect for the Padres, and I'm confident he'll come around.
As for Hernandez? He's 43. I would be afraid to get his blood pressure up. My mom always taught me it wasn't nice to rip on the elderly.
Marte? He's 23 with a big upside. Even though he has struggled and is on the DL, he's on pace for 90 RBIs.
I am tough on Blake, perhaps more than is needed. But I have ripped on other players before. Not to this level. But then again, I'm lucky if 30 people visit my site. My site is often my vent-spot. When you work all night and get home, you're not always in the best of moods.
So, whatever. I doubt this will change your mind any.
But you won't change mine either.
Hope all is well.

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Did I just see that?
Did the Orioles really intentionally walk Casey Blake to pitch to Travis Hafner with the bases loaded today?
Yeah, Pronk struck out. But that led to Victor Martinez's walk and Trot "Ty Cobb" Nixon's two run single.
I don't usually give advice to Indians' opponents, but I have to here.
You will never find a more sure out with runners on than Casey Blake. Just pitch to him, even if it's a 3-0 count.

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

Something different
It might be difficult to remember now, but more than three years ago, when I started this blog, I wanted it to be about politics, sports, music and culture.
I may have also had a sentence in there about pro wrestling, but I try to forget that (though I do occasionally go there, just to make sure no one takes me seriously).
If you look back at the early days of this blog though, you won't see anything about it being a spot for Casey Blake hatred.
Yet as I looked at my blog today, I realized that my dislike for skills of the Indians player has started to overwhelm the rest of the content.
So in an attempt to balance it out, here's some non-Blake nuggets:

Strip Clubs
No matter what you hear, I am not a strip club guy. I did, in my college years, go a few times, but they are honestly not really for me.
That said, I have a real problem with the legislation going through my beloved state to close strip clubs at midnight and keep dancers six feet away from patrons.
No one is forced to go to a strip club, and women are not forced to work there. If it's not your thing, you don't have to go.
What I am against is people making that decision for others. We have real problems in this country, and in this world.
Keeping adults from getting lapdances is not a blow for decency. It's force-feeding one's values on another.
We have more important things to do.

The French elect a Conservative?
The "out of my depth" meter is beeping here. Still, I am encouraged by the following from France's President-Elect Nicolas Sarkozy:
Sarkozy added that he wanted to tell his "American friends that they can rely on our friendship ... France will always be next to them when they need us."

Yankees bring statue out of retirement
Let me see if I have this right:
Roger Clemens will be 45 before the end of this baseball season.
Roger Clemens will not pitch an entire baseball season.
Roger Clemens could make $28 million this year.
If I think about this long enough, my head will hurt. I'm not sure what Clemens will bring New York. He certainly can't fix the bullpen.
But here's the main problem: Clemens has to help New York win the World Series. If he doesn't, the money is wasted.
And what happens if Clemens performs like every other 45-year old pitcher in history? What if he gets shelled? What if he can't be Roger Clemens anymore?
Clemens made an announcement from the Owner's Box. He was treated like a hero.
But no hero is immortal. John Wayne couldn't make movies forever. Michael Jordan's final run with the Wizards didn't create magic. Clemens may have rode in like the Lone Ranger, but there's no guarantee he'll gallup off into the sunset.

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Great moments in Indians broadcasting
"Blake ... almost has made about three great plays at third base." --Indians announcer Jim Donovan


Friday, May 04, 2007

The Casey Blake Web
You know, when the sports editor of a another newspaper calls you at work to tell you Casey Blake hit a homer, you know your blog has reached new heights.

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Casey Blake Watch
The Indians third baseman (who has been OK defensively) is hitting .040 with runners in scoring position. He's projected to finish the season with 13 homers and 47 RBIs. Of course, that's assuming he:
A) Plays 161 games and gets 597 at-bats, and
B) Doesn't improve on his .202 batting average.
Hey, I expect Casey to hit between .250 and .260, and hit 20 homers. But that's only because he will get enough playing time to reach those numbers. I don't expect him to hit well with runner in scoring position, since he never has (a .260 batting average with RISP is not all that great; I don't care what Matt Underwood says. That's what Blake hit a year ago).
Here's the problem: With Andy Marte hurt and Mike Rouse the Indians only other option (a smoking 2 for 20 at the plate this year), Blake has to play. I would have liked to have seen the Indians bring back Hector Luna, because at least he has some pop.
I can see some of you rolling your eyes now:
"But Zach, the Indians are red hot. You single out Blake, and you always focus on the bad stuff when things are going well."
My answer: So what? The Indians have always been streaky under Eric Wedge. The thing that worries me during this stretch is the Indians haven't played all that well during it. That might come as a comfort to the Indians brass, and I suppose I can see their point.
But I think if Cleveland doesn't make some tweaks (move runners, take advantage of opportunities), they could be in trouble. In this division, one bad stretch can put a team in third.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Song quote of the day
Where do you go when you're lonely
where do you go when you're blue
where do you go when you're lonely
I'll follow you
when the stars go blue-- Ryan Adams


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

When I was younger, my birthday was very exciting.
My mom would send cupcakes to Pine Elementary School, and Mrs. Kidder would tease me (at the ripe age of nine) about having gray hairs.
Birthdays are a gift; a reminder of the passage of time. They remind us how lucky we are. People take time out of their day to call, or send a card.
They also can bring on anxiety. Three years ago I celebrated No. 24. Three years from now I'll be 30.
I'm relatively new at this aging thing, but does time go faster as you get older?
My brother also is celebrating a birthday today. He's two years younger than me. When I was younger, that was great. Now, I'm not so sure. He'll get to be in his 20s longer than I will.
Still, happy birthday to him.
And to The Rock, Kyle Busch, David Beckham, Lou Gramm, Larry Gatlin, Leslie Gore, Bianca Jaggar, Clay Carroll, Engelbert Humperdinck, and the late, great, Bing Crosby.


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Andy Barch Post-Draft Interview

Zach: OK. You were dead set against the Browns drafting Brady Quinn. Did the way they got him change your mind at all?

Andy: Very little. I guess that kind of player is a good value in the middle of the first round, but here is my question. Everyone says he grades as a solid, but not spectacular player, do you trade your second round pick and next year's first for a solid player? Especially when you have as many holes as the Browns do?? They could have gotten someone like Stanton, Edwards or Beck in the second round. Also, picking Joe Thomas was great, but let's not forget, the jury is still out on Quinn until he proves he can win big games, improve his pocket presence, and will not buckle under pressure. That includes pressure in big games, and pressure from ends and linebackers.

Zach: So you like the Thomas selection?

Andy: Absolutely friggin love it. The Browns have continued to ignore that position for years now; its about time they address it. With Thomas you have a solid top five tackle for the next 10 years. He'll protect the blindside, he'll create some holes, and he's a sure thing at that spot. Thomas, McKinney, Steinbach, Bentley, then you have either Schaeffer or Tucker at the right tackle, thats not a bad starting five. When you win the war in the trenches, you have a MUCH better chance at winning games. By drafting Thomas, they at least have a chance at winning the war in the trenches on offense. Last year, they had no shot, thats why they drafted third.

Zach: OK. Biggest surprise of the first round?

Andy: Ted Ginn going to the Dolphins; what the hell were they thinking? They didnt have to go Quinn, but they could have gone 25 other directions, why Ginn? They have long rangy, possession receivers and a speed guy in Chris Chambers, did they draft him just to return kicks? You can get a speed guy to return kicks later in the draft. The Dolphins could have gone a number of other directions. There were plenty of good defensive players available at that spot, and they also could have gone tight end to snag Olsen. Yes it may have been too soon, but it was also too soon to grab Ted Ginn.

Zach: It didn't appear to be a popular choice.

Andy: Well, no, because they didn't need a receiver. I understand that they havent returned a punt for a touchdown in nearly seven years but still ... you can get guys like that later in the draft. I've said this before: I think Ginn is OK, he's not great though. The guy will be a Az Zahir Hakim-type player, would you take that kind of player in the top 10?

Zach: No, but then I probably would have drafted Akili Smith all those years ago.

Andy: Point well taken on Smith.

Zach: Anyway, the Lions draft a receiver again. Is this different than before?

Andy: Well, who knows. I heard this earlier in the week they were facing a PR nightmare, if they take him its 'WHAT? ANOTHER RECEIVER?' If they pass on him its 'HOW CAN YOU PASS ON THIS GUY?' Everything we've heard about Calvin Johnson has been GREAT, apparently, he's as can't miss as they get at this position. My question is, how in the world can you satisfy both him and Roy Williams? Thats going to be an interesting tandem. I absolutely love their second pick in Drew Stanton; I think he's gonna be a stud, of course I'm a little biased, but still, I think he'll be great.

Zach: Could it have been worse for JaMarcus Russell?

Andy: What do you mean could it have been worse?

Zach: Well, Oakland kind of resembles a scrap yard right now. Is there any way he develops there?

Andy: OK, I see what you are saying. Yes, with a new coach, there is new excitement, the team is a trainwreck, but a young coach brings energy, he's able to relate to a lot of these guys because he's on their level, and they are all growing together. That defense wasnt awful last year, but that offense obviously left a lot to be desired. I think a guy like Jerry Porter and a guy like Ron Curry can both get excited about a guy who can throw the ball as far as Russell can. The question is, can they keep him upright long enough to allow him to throw that ball 80 yards? One other surprise from the first round if I may?

Zach: Sure.

Andy: Adrian Peterson to the Vikings. I know he's a great player, and I know he was the best back in the draft, but why in the hell would you draft a running back when YOUR MAIN MAN RAN FOR 1,200 YARDS LAST SEASON? Chester Taylor had a very nice year there, and this is his reward? Great job, 1,200 yards, thanks for coming, but this new kid gets the nod. I didnt understand that pick at all. They have some holes on defense that they should have addressed.

Zach: I was actually surprised they passed on Quinn. Did you like what the Cardinals did?

Andy: Yes, absolutely loved it. They drafted a tackle, which they desperately needed. Jones was their guy, and they went for him. Tackle wasn't a very deep position in this draft, and they got the second best one. Salisbury mentioned this: They are OUTSTANDING on the perimeter, but they need to start winning the war in the trenches. They've lost those battles over the last few years, and both Grimm and Whisenhunt know that the only way they're going to win is if they win the wars in the trenches. Picking Brown may not have been popular, but there is an old saying: What is popular isnt always right, and what is right isn't always popular. The hell with popularity; that means nothing. These guys arent there to win a popularity contest, they are there to win games.

Zach: Are you surprised how far Randy Moss has fallen? A fourth round pick for him seems pretty amazing considering what Oakland gave up not too long ago.

Andy: Well, he is 30 years old, and he hasn't been the same player the last two years. To be honest, I'm heartbroken that he won't be wearing a Packers' uniform. I thought he'd be a Packer for sure. He would have been outstanding in the Green and Gold, but apparently Ted Thompson didnt want to give up a precious fourth round pick. Moss' godfather is one of my producers, and he mentioned that Moss would have taken a paycut to play for the Pack; it sounds like he's doing the same for the Patriots. I hate the fact that he's going to the Pats; it gives them a nice core of receivers. Again, he is 30, he may have some mileage left, but he's not the same guy he was in Minnesota. When you don't produce for two years, your price comes way down.

Zach: Sure. Where does Trent Green go now?

Andy: Good question, he probably just gets cut, and then signs with either Miami at a discounted rate. That's a good question though, because he cant be happy backing up in KC, and I dont think they want to give him that bonus.

Zach: Troy Smith. Is he helped or hurt by going to the Ravens?

Andy: Helped. McNair won't play forever; Boller isnt the answer, and Troy Smith can learn a lot from McNair. They are kind of in the same mold, but McNair is a little bigger. I think he'll get a chance to start when McNair is done. Its a good fit for Troy Smith; the fact that he fell that far should give him enough motivation.