Wednesday, July 27, 2016

2013 NFL Power Rankings: Super Bowl

I find that this edition of NFL power rankings is especially enjoyable to put together each postseason because the piece guides me in making my Super Bowl prediction. That theory didn’t do me much good last week, however, as I really did believe both home teams would hold serve in the conference championship games. Before making what is admittedly a very early Super Bowl prediction that will likely be changed several times before the big game begins, here’s a look back at the NFL’s version of the Final Four.

2013 NFL power rankings: Super Bowl

The eliminated

4. Atlanta Falcons: It turns out that the 2012-13 Falcons really were just a team that would fold under the pressure of being three quarters away from a Super Bowl. One could argue that no team in the league has more soul-searching to do this offseason than Atlanta following their most recent loss. I understand it’s easy and fashionable to criticize Matt Ryan, but I can’t help but look at Mike Smith. That the Falcons are routinely one of the best regular season teams yet they can’t get the job done in the postseason says quite a bit about their character, and there comes a time when those running a franchise have to determine if they’ve got the right man to lead the team to a title.

3. New England Patriots: Here’s an interesting tidbit to consider: Tom Brady has now been outplayed in New England’s last three championship games. With that said, those quick to celebrate what they believe to be the death of the Patriots era should probably hold off for just a little while. The Pats will likely be favorites to again win the division come this summer, and you have to believe that Brady and company have one more Super Bowl run in them.

The Super

2. San Francisco 49ers: Alex who? These playoffs have been a coming out party for Colin Kaepernick, and I’m sure there are many out there who would say that he’s the best QB that will be playing in the upcoming Super Bowl. My biggest concern about the Niners continues to be their bipolar defense that showed up 15 minutes later against the Falcons, one that was also lit up by Green Bay and the Giants (it’s worth noting that Alex Smith was absolutely dreadful in the New York game) earlier this season. San Fran definitely has the goods to win it all, but coming back from a double-digit deficit in a Super Bowl is no easy task.

1. Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens really have been playing like a team of destiny since the Ray Lewis announcement. Their defense has been a different unit in the postseason, and Joe Flacco is four quarters away from attaining that elite status that was such a hot topic last April. Baltimore was my preseason pick to win it all this past September. I’m sticking with them to the very end.

Tags:2013 NFL Power Rankings: Super Bowl

2013 IFBB Olympia Results

The IFBB Olympia is the biggest, most popular event of the year in bodybuilding. The very best professional athletes show off physiques they’ve spent years perfecting. 2013 had a lineup of the best physiques, and although there were competitors everyone knew would do well, there were other competitors that placed lower than expected.

Showdown between Phil Heath and Kai Green

The showdown between Kai Green and Phil Heath was built up from all social media and publication outlets. Fans and athletes knew it would come down to Green and Heath in the top two positions. However; when judged, it was Heath, then Green; in that order.

His coach George Farah phosted on Facebook that,

“We did our best and we came short. Kai is officially the people’s champ. For you that were at the arena I am sure you heard the crowd reaction. Proud of my boy and I know that his dream will be realized sooner then later.”

There was also a lot of excitement over Jay Cutler’s return. However, Cutler did not make it in the top five; which disappointed fans and supporters.

  1. Phil Heath
  2. Kai Greene
  3. Dennis Wolf
  4. Shawn Rhoden
  5. Dexter Jackson
  6. Jay Cutler
  7. Roelly Winklaar
  8. Mamdouh Elssbiay
  9. Branch Warren
  10. Lionel Beyeke

First Lady of Physique Dana Linn Bailey wins inaugural Ms. Physique Olympia title

The inaugural Women’s Physique Olympia was won by none other than the first lady of physique, Dana Linn Bailey. Bailey was the first athlete to win her IFBB Physique procard in 2011. During 2012, her first place wins dipped to 16 at the IFBB New York Pro. This decline was a surprise to everyone, but each subsequent show Bailey placed higher until winning the Olympia.

  1. Dana Linn Bailey
  2. Tycie Copped
  3. Sara Hurrle
  4. Toni West
  5. Patricia Mello
  6. Jillian Reville
  7. Juliana Malacarne
  8. Karina Nascimento
  9. Tamee Marie
  10. Karin Hobbs
  11. Mikaila Soto
  12. Jamie Pinder
  13. Sabrina Taylor
  14. Valerie Gangi
  15. Mindi O’Brien
  16. Venus Nguyen

Nicole Wilkins wins 2013 Figure Olympia

Nicole Wilkins made the decision to sit out of the 2013 Ms. Figure International. She made the decision to legnthen her off season to make improvements for the 2013 Olympia. Wilkin’s longer off season gave her time to fine tune her physique, and to become the four-time Figure Olympia winner.

“For the past five years, the Monday after Thanksgiving always marks the first day of my prep for the Arnold Classic. But not this year – because, since 2008, I’ve decided to sit out the event. For the first time since I’ve been a pro, I’m going to give myself a longer offseason to make the improvements I feel are necessary to get my physique where I want it to be to hopefully win back the Figure Olympia title.”

  1. Nicole Wilkins
  2. Erin Stern
  3. Candice Keene
  4. Heather Dees
  5. Mallory Haldeman
  6. Ann Titone
  7. Camala Rodriguez
  8. Gennifer Strobo

Read: Arnold Sports Festival: Who is and isn’t returning to 2013 Arnold Classic stage?

Iris Kyle makes history as a nine-time Olympia winner

Irish Kyle made history as the nine-time Ms. Olympia. Kyle did not compete in the 2012 Arnold classic due to a calf injury, but came back strong during the latter part of the year. Since, Kyle is on a winning streak for the Ms. Internationals and the IFBB Ms. Olympias since 2006.

  1. Iris Kyle
  2. Alina Popa
  3. Debi Laszewski
  4. Yaxeni Oriquen
  5. Brigita Brezovac
  6. Juanita Blaino
  7. Jennifer Abshire
  8. Monique Jones
  9. Anne Freitas
  10. Cathy LeFrancois
  11. Maria Rita Bello
  12. Tina Chandler

Flex takes Men’s 212

Flex Lewis came back to defend his 2012 IFBB Olympia title ,and became the two-time 212 champ. As of September 24, the administrators of his Facebook fanpage stated:

“The Welsh Dragon has arrived in Las Vegas!!In the deepest line up the 212 Olympia has ever seen, @flex_lewis has pushed himself harder than ever before to defend his 212 Title and the CHAMP is here to take what’s his!! -Team Flex”

  1. James Flex Lewis
  2. David Henry
  3. Kevin English
  4. Jose Raymond
  5. Eduardo Correa-
  6. Sami Al Haddad
  7. Guy Cisternino
  8. Troy Alves
  9. Tricky Jackson
  10. Mark Dugdale
  11. Al Auguste
  12. Raul Carrasco

Adela Garcia becomes eight-time Fitness Olympia winner

Adela Garcia is now the eight-time Fitness Olympia winner. Her routine was exciting and entertaining, and showed off her ever fit physique. Oksana Grishina was hot on her heels though, and has been pressing on to win that top spot.

  1. Adela Garcia
  2. Oksana Grishina
  3. Tanji Johnson
  4. Myriam Capes
  5. Bethany Cisternino
  6. Trish Warren
  7. Ryall Graber-Vasani
  8. Regiane Da Silva
  9. Whitney Jones
  10. Michelle Blank
  11. Natalie Planes
  12. Fiona Harris
  13. Diana Montiero

Watch Bodybuilding.com: Adela Garcia fitness routine

Mark Anthony Wingson wins IFBB Men’s Physique Olympia

Mark Anthony Wingson wins the IFBB Mens’ Physique Olympia title. Is anyone surprised?

  1. Mark Anthony Wingson
  2. Jeremy Buendia
  3. Matt Acton
  4. Sadik Hadzovic
  5. Jason Poston
  6. Tyler Anderson
  7. Michael Anderson
  8. Steve Cook
  9. Tory Woodward
  10. Alex Carneiro
  11. Jeff Seid
  12. Anton Antipov
  13. Matt Christianer
  14. William Sullivan
  15. Stephen Mass
  16. John Nguyen

Surprise for Ashley Kaltwasser as 2013 IFBB Bikini Olympia winner

The Bikini Olympia was full of beautiful women as usual. However, Ashley Kaltwasser’s first place win was a surprise after placing 10th at the Arnold Classic Ms. International. Even more surprising was former Olympia winner Nathalia Melo’s fourth place win, as well as India Paulino fifth place finish.

  1. Ashley Kaltwasser
  2. Yeshaira Robles
  3. Stacey Alexander
  4. Nathalia Melo
  5. India Paulino
  6. Amanda Latona
  7. Courtney King
  8. Justine Munro
  9. Lacey Deluca
  10. Tiffany Boydston
  11. Tawna Eubanks
  12. Gigi Amurao
  13. Ashley LeBlanc
  14. Candice Conroy
  15. Jennifer Andrews

Tags:2013 IFBB Olympia Results

2013 Honda Fit Vs Nissan Juke

There are so many choices in subcompact cars today. Many people look at car rankings, miles per gallon, cost, a car buying guide and other reviews before making a decision.

2013 Honda Fit

Price: MSRP $15,425 to $17,160

The Honda Fit is only offered as a hatchback, so if you don’t like this particular style you are out of luck. It is also only offered in a 117 HP 1.5 liter I-4 engine. The Honda Fit gets between 27 and 28 mpg in the city and 33 and 35 mpg on the highway. Transmission options include a 5-speed manual with overdrive, a 5-speed automatic with overdrive, and a 5-speed automatic with overdrive and auto-manual.

The Honda Fit has USB inputs for things like flash drives and MP3 players, a nice cargo area, and a folding backseat. It does well in fuel economy tests. However, keep in mind it only has drum rear brakes. Those wanting disc brakes are not going to be able to have that feature with this particular vehicle.

It is available in two trim options; the base hatchback with a $15,425 MSRP and the sport hatchback with a $17,160 MSRP.

2013 Nissan Juke

Price: MSRP $20,280 to $26,940

The Nissan Juke is a small crossover with a 188 HP 1.6 liter I-4 engine as its only engine option. It gets between 25 and 27 mpg in the city and 30 to 32 mpg on the highway. You have the option of a 6-speed manual transmission with overdrive or a 2-speed CVT with overdrive and auto-manual. The Nissan Juke’s four-cylinder engine is turbocharged. Options include a backup camera, new interior controls, and a standard iPod connectivity.

However, the Nissan Juke has a small cargo area and small backseat, some may feel cramped who have to ride in the back. The driver’s seat can be uncomfortable and the automatic transmission has been said to be “unresponsive”.

It is available in six trim models; the S front-wheel drive (MSRP $20,280), the S all-wheel drive (MSRP $21,940), the SV front-wheel drive (MSRP $21,890), the SV all-wheel drive (MSRP $24,050), the SL front-wheel drive (MSRP $24,790), and the SL all-wheel drive (MSRP $26,940).

Between the two vehicles the Fit may have comfort, mpg, and price point. The Nissan Juke is the only one of the two that has the turbocharged engine feature, an option that younger folk may prefer over comfort and miles per gallon use. Personal choice may have you choosing the Juke in the Honda Fit vs Nissan Juke battle.

Source:
Cars.com

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2013 NFL Draft: A Fan's Perspective

Being a huge football fan my entire life, one of my favorite times of the year is when the NFL draft rolls around. I love to see who my team (the Pittsburgh Steelers) is gonna pick up. Draft day provides a little bit of excitement to all fans for the upcoming season. The 2013 NFL Draft Class has a solid group of players that will be able to make an immediate impact in the NFL. For this fan, the 2013 Draft will be known for the defensive players that it produces, unlike 2012 which was full of offensive talent such as Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, and surprise 6th-round-pick RB Alfred Morris. This is the list of the top five players that I would pick as a general manager in this upcoming draft.

1. Manti Te’o
Middle Linebacker
College: Notre Dame
Ht: 6’2″ Wt: 255 lbs

This potential Heisman trophy winner has to be the first pick in my opinion. Not only do his numbers over the past four years indicate a big time NFL player, he also brings many intangibles on and off the field. At 6’2″ 255 pounds, he has the prototypical body for an NFL middle linebacker. According to ESPN in 2012 Te’o has 103 total tackles and 7 interceptions out of his linebacker position. For any team that has a need for a defensive leader, this has to be your guy.

2. Jarvis Jones
Outside Linebacker
College: Georgia
Ht: 6’3″ Wt: 241 lbs

Jarvis Jones has the potential to be one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. He reminds me a little bit of Demarcus Ware. This year, according to the University of Georgia official statistics, Jones has accumulated 77 total tackles, 22.5 for a loss to go along with 12.5 sacks. He is the main reason that Georgia has one of the best defenses in the country. I could see Jones being a great fit for either the Kansas City Chiefs or Oakland Raiders who should have pretty high picks if their horrible seasons continue.

3. Bjoern Werner
Defensive End
College: Florida State
Ht:6’4″ Wt: 255 lbs

Having watched this kid play, I have the utmost respect for his ability. Werner is just a junior, but I have to believe he will be heading to the greener pastures of the NFL next season. Like Jones, he is a prolific pass-rusher from the outside. So far, according to Florida State’s website, in 2012 he has 13 sacks and 18 total tackles for a loss. The 2013 Draft is full of defensive line talent and Bjoern Werner could turn out to be the best of them all.

4. Star Lotulelei
Defensive Tackle
College: Utah
Ht: 6’3″ Wt: 220 lbs

It is very hard in today’s game to find someone like Lotulelei. He has the right makeup to be one of the best interior defensive lineman in the game. He plays similar to the one of my favorite defensive players Haloti Ngata. He should be a tough task for any offensive lineman in the future. Lookout for Lotulelei to make a big impact in the NFL in 2013.

5. Luke Joeckel
Offensive Tackle
College: Texas A&M
Ht: 6’6″ Wt: 310

My one offensive player in the top 5 is Luke Joeckel. I believe that he is the best offensive lineman in this class. He’s got the size and quickness to be a starter right away at the tackle position for any NFL team. Watching him play a couple times, it was evident to me that he has incredible footwork. Size isn’t everything in the NFL, and it is apparent Joeckel has what it takes to contribute at the next level.

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2013: A Record Year for Classic Cars

No matter what your marque alliance, 2013 proved to be a banner year for all classic car enthusiasts. Fueled by the expansion of new car events, the famous cars sold at auction, the caliber of the car show winners, and the record breaking sale prices, it’s hard to imagine a more exciting time for the hobby. Furthermore, the 7th generation Corvette Stingray and the new 2015 Mustang model, which are both destined to become future classics, were introduced in this same time period. In a year full of classic car action, here are a few of the top cars and events that made 2013 not only a great time for classic car fans, but one for the records.

Famous Star Cars

Nothing creates a buzz quite like a celebrity. As expected, admirers rushed the stage when the star of the show, the original Batmobile, made its grand entrance at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale. Excitement was definitely in the air, leaving little doubt that this was a momentous occasion. As bidding began, the audience didn’t hesitate to lend their support, particularly as the bids continued to increase well beyond everyone’s expectations. Finally, the Caped Crusader ‘s 1955 Lincoln Futura earned $4.6 million for its performance.

Mid-year, another iconic car made famous in the Nicolas Cage blockbuster movie, “Gone in 60 Seconds,” demonstrated its star power at the Mecum Indy auction. Prior to this customized 1967 Shelby GT500, named Eleanor, being sold, it was displayed inside a special glass box, very much like a valuable jewel in a museum. When it rolled onto Mecum’s red carpet, it also received a celebrity welcome, from the crowd who cheered throughout the bidding war. The final price for this star Mustang was $1.08 million.

New and Unique Events

One of the most entertaining classic car events in 2013 was the Bruce Wiener Microcar Auction, hosted by RM Auctions. This biggest sale of the tiniest cars consisted of an entire museum of high quality BMW Isettas, Messerschmitts, Goggomobiles, as well as many other very rare microcars. In addition to these miniature people movers, perfectly-restored classic neon signs, candy machines, and kiddy rides were for sale to the highest bidder. In this everything-goes sale, only a few attendees took home a collectible, but everyone left with a smile.

Although Pebble Beach is perhaps the most recognized Concours d’ Elegance in the United States, there are more than 25 other Concours across the country, and the number is growing. For example, Pinehurst, which held its first event in 2013, attracted a stellar gathering of automobiles. Move over PGA golf tournaments, there’s a new game in town. And, out of all the grand Concours d’ Elegance events during the year, Amelia Island received the International Historic Motoring’s top honor, the 2013 Motoring Event of the Year. This award was, in part, due to the magnificent group of twelve original Ford GT 40 race cars on the field, including the Gulf #6 car, which won the 24 hours of Le Mans in both 1968 and 1969. To see one of these historical race cars is quite a thrill, but a dozen together in one place — well, it’s like hitting the jackpot.

In 2013, RM Auctions teamed with Sotheby, for the first time, to present the “Art of the Car” event in New York City. Of the 31 pieces of rolling art for sale, 16 surpassed $1 million. Altogether, RM and Sotheby generated almost $63 million in sales, in an auction lasting just over two hours. This, no doubt, was, in itself, a record.

Barrett-Jackson added a new stop on their auction circuit in 2013 — Reno. Since “Hot August Nights” brings thousands of car enthusiasts to Reno every year, why not rev up the excitement and hold a Barrett-Jackson auction? This dynamic duo will make August in the “Biggest Little City in World” even hotter.

RK Motors, a newcomer to the classic car auction business, held their first two events in 2013. They sold several high-end cars, two of which sold for over $1 million. Their second auction was simulcast in Abu Dhabi, extending their international reach, which is a significant part of their market.

Winning Cars

Throughout the year many great custom builds and finely-restored automobiles took home the top prize in the events they entered. Arguably, three cars are the best remembered as superstars in 2013.

The first car on this short list is a 1969 Torino Talladega, named the ‘GPT Special.’ This custom car is over-the-top, with an enhanced NASCAR look and a fuel injected Boss 429 under the hood. It won the Street Machine of the Year award at the Goodguys Columbus car show and the first Barrett-Jackson Cup during the “Hot August Nights” event.

A 1940 Ford Coupe, called “Checkered Past,” is another first-rate restoration. It has the classic look of a hot rodder, with large flowing fenders and a blown flathead Ford V8. In 2013, it won the coveted Ridler Award in Detroit and the Street Rod of the Year at the Columbus Goodguys car show.

A 1934 Packard 1108 Twelve Dietrich Convertible Victoria, winner of the Best of Show award at Pebble Beach Concours d’ Elegance, rounded out this elite group of winning cars. As elegant and magnificent today as it was in its original form, this Packard embodies the highest level of craftsmanship, and a time when automobiles truly were works of art. Significantly, it was the first American marque to win the Best in Show at Pebble Beach in 12 years.

Record Breaking Year

As evidence of the resurgence of the market for classic cars, here are just some of the records broken in 2013.

  • 3000 cars: Largest number of classic cars offered for sale in a single event (Mecum Kissimmee auction)
  • $322,000: Highest price paid for a microcar, a 1958 Messerschmitt Tiger (RM /Weiner Auction)
  • $1.4 million: Highest price paid for a Mustang, a one of a kind 1967 Shelby Super Snake at the (Mecum Indy Auction)
  • $3.5 million: Highest price paid for a Corvette, a 1967 Corvette L88 (Mecum Dallas Auction)
  • $9.5 million: Highest price paid for a 1957 Ferrari 250 GT 14-Louver Berlinetta (Gooding & Company Monterey Auction)
  • $27.5 million: Highest price paid for a road car at auction, a 1967 Ferrari 275 N.A.R.T. (RM Monterey Auction)
  • $29.6 million: Highest price paid for any car at auction, a 1954 Mercedes-Benz Race Car (Bonhams London Auction)

All sale prices listed include buyer’s premium.

For more photos of the cars that made 2013 a record year for classics, go to eClassicAutos.

Tags:2013: A Record Year for Classic Cars

2013 New York Yankees Gift Guide

Sports fans love showing their colors, and New York Yankees fans are no exception.

If someone on your holiday gift list is a fan of the Bronx Bombers, these 10 gift ideas — in various price ranges — will be much-appreciated:

Mariano Rivera New York Yankees Autographed Baseball with Gold Glove Display Case – For the ultimate Yankees fan, this display commemorates the career of Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, who retired after the 2013 season. The item is officially licensed by the MLB and comes with a numbered, tamper-resistant hologram from Mounted Memories for $399.95.

New York Yankees Women’s Pink Sequin Flip Flops – Get ready for summer at the stadium with these flip flops, great for a stocking stuffer and just $19.95 (medium only).

New York Yankees Twin/Full Comforter Set – Surprise your favorite Yankees fan — young or old — with this comfortable bedding set, which includes a comforter (76″ x 86″) and two matching pillow shams. Help them decorate their room in Yankee style for $115.95.

Antigua New York Yankees Ladies MLB Full Zip Hoodie Sweatshirt – Available in Light Blue or Kelly Green, this poly/cotton hoodie with front pockets will keep your favorite female Yankees fan warm throughout the off-season and spring training. It’s $54.95 and available in sizes s-XL.

New York Yankees 2014 Wall Calendar – They’ll be spending the entire year with their favorite team if you get them this 12″ x 12″, 16-month calendar. It’s ready to hang and features a different Yankee each month — nicely priced at $15.99.

Nike Mariano Rivera New York Yankees Sandman T-Shirt – This navy blue cotton tee celebrates the career of famed Yankees closer Rivera. Available in sizes S-XXL for $27.95.

New York Yankees Solar-Powered Projection Rock – A whimsical gift for the super-fan who has everything, this projector will make a surprising simple addition to your garden area, but light up the night with your favorite team’s logo. Made of resin, the rock comes with rechargeable batteries and costs $39.95.

New York Yankees Helmet Piggy Bank-Navy Blue – Help a young fan save his or her pennies for their first trip to Yankee Stadium with this Yankees Bank, made of resin and featuring a bottom stopper for easy money retrieval. Another easy gift to give at just $19.95.

Adidas New York Yankees 3-Piece Creeper, Bib and Booties Set – Teach the kids from the start who to root for with this set for the youngest fans. Available for newborns and infants (12, 18 and 24 months), this poly/cotton set features screen print graphics and costs $29.95.

New York Yankees Activo Waterproof Tote Bag-Navy Blue – For the Yankees fan on the move, this waterproof tote measures 11″ wide by 14″ high and sits 6″ deep. It has multiple accessory pockets, an adjustable and detachable shoulder strap as well as carry handles, and features screen printed graphics. The price is good, too — just $39.95.

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2013, the Year of Jubilee: Our 12-Month Sabbatical from Entitlement and Greed

by Donald Croft Brickner

Let’s try our hands at a little bit of imagination-driven time travel, what do you say?

Picture yourself living in (on) January 1, 2013 (…which, I might throw in as aside, is five full days before my 66th birthday). Yes. So, I’m there — how about you?

The face of America has already changed beyond all recognition on that date: the U.S. federal government has been reconfigured out-the-kazoo. And a lot of you who were materialistically rich beyond all comprehension today (in the back-here-and-now) will no longer be as — “well off,” let’s call it.

The strangest celebration of Christmas on record occurred just one week ago (December 25, 2012) … which itself wasn’t even supposed to happen because, according to some glib interpretations of the Mayan calendar (by those from another language and culture), the End of the World was supposed to have taken place only four days earlier, on December 21.

(…OMG! — was that a wild-eyed Woody Harrelson getting blasted past our windows in an explosive megacloud originating all the way from northwestern Wyoming..?!)

…No. No, it wasn’t.

What megacloud? Foolish rabbits: our world still remains intact. It’s merely January 1, 2013 — which, oh-by-the-way, also marks the first day of the first-ever fully celebrated Year of Jubilee.

The day of the week is (will be) a Tuesday.

Best to scramble for your (ideally, annotated) Bibles now. You’re likely to wish to seek one out.

* * * * *

As this essay is being written, there are at least three or four potential Trigger Events in the U.S. and globally that individually (or more likely, collectively) could bring on the second half of our economic meltdown, leading to “splat” — which itself, in my view, is already locked in (…as I’ve stated in previous published essays).

For historical references only (for those wishing to view this essay in retrospect which, in part, is one of its intentions!

By “tributaries,” I’m referring not to Bayouesque streams leading off of, say, the Mississippi River, but to smaller (and still-“fluid”) probabilities attached to the greater “Foundation Probability” — which, in this instance, is the impact of the oil spill itself … and, secondarily, that impact on the people living in the states directly affected. Their story remains fluid today. Will they ever get their Gulf-related livelihoods back? It’s too early to call — but probabilities suggest many will not. More tributaries, obviously, flow off of just such a consideration as that, as well.

Tributary probabilities, in any event, are all attached to their already-manifesting Foundation Probability, only yet remain in (unformed) fluid states at the moment of a given Trigger Event’s manifestation — and so, therefore, they’re not themselves as yet clearly predictable.

Tributary probabilities, too, left largely unaddressed, could lead to yet more Trigger Events. Such is the cycle we all, globally, now find ourselves in — and it’s a quadruple whopper! It’s so enormous and widespread, the likes of it have never taken place on Planet Earth before. It’s BIG!

That’s how such occurrences (usually the result of rampantly unconscious complacency — at the hands of severe insulation) evolve into tragic (and commonly widespread) consequences.

Call all of this Probability Theory, if you’d like.

To my knowledge, it’s never existed before now.

It’s also the mechanics behind The Great Leveling … which I first introduced conceptually two years ago. It’s a three-phased event covering four-to-six years, and we’re about a year and a half into it, hovering very close to the end of Phase One (Collapse) and entering Phase Two (Reaction). Phase Three is Recovery; and the introduction there of The Year of Jubilee would effectively mark the beginning of that. (Yay!)

* * * * *

At the core of The Great Leveling is real-deal (and often non-physically-introduced) addiction, like Compulsive Money-Making — itself number three on the list of probable Trigger Events.

(Number two is the [still now fluid] probable economic collapse of Greece, Portugal, Spain, France and maybe Italy; and our California. If one thinks saying, ta-ta, to the Euro is funny, one might best reconsider his or her “position.”)

Regardless, we’ll not argue (again) for addiction causalities here.

We have bigger, and more immediate fish to fry: the actual free fall downward spiral itself.

We’re about to go plummeting downward toward a (likely global) bottom-hitting — which will, at long last, culminate Phase One. (If one’s about to have a full-palmed spanking, one might as well get it over with, right? It’s a dreadful spanking to be sure — but it’s only just a spanking.)

In any case — let’s all cheer up a little bit. C’mon! Got your Bibles (and concordances) ready?

You’ll need to focus a little more here, perhaps. I’m forced to provide some historical Christian erudition, but I’ll do everything I can to make this fun. (And, frankly, I’ll settle for “readable.”)

* * * * *

My references and, in parentheses, abbreviations for those references, with [bracketed] last revision dates, will be as follows, and in no particular order:

* The Bible — Authorized King James Version with Apocrypha [2008] (KJ)
* Holy Bible — New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition, with Concordance [1999] (NRSV)
* The New Oxford Annotated Bible [NRSV], an Ecumenical Study Bible [1994] (Annot)
* Catholic Bible Dictionary [Scott Hahn, General Editor] [2009] (Dict)

“DCB” refers to moi.

So, let’s start off with a general explanation about the background of the Biblical Year of Jubilee — beginning with these quotes from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [1915] (ISBE), via the Internet’s http://ift.tt/17hNvkz — which was brought to my attention by a very old friend (not age-wise), Rob Taylor, a missionary with Operation Mobilization based out of Tyrone, Georgia.

First, the boring stuff:

“JUBILEE YEAR ‘” (shenath ha-yobhel; etos tes apheseos; annus jubilaeus, ‘year of jubilee’ (Lev 25:13), or simply ha-yobhel, ‘the jubilee’ (Lev 25:28…), [the King James Version and the English Revised Version Jubile]: The Hebrew word yobhel stands for qeren ha-yobhel, meaning the horn of a ram. Now, such a horn can be made into a trumpet, and thus the word yobhel came to be used as a synonym of trumpet.” [brackets above, mine–DCB]

“According to Lev 25:9 a loud trumpet should proclaim liberty throughout the country on the 10th day of the 7th month (the Day of Atonement), after the lapse of seven sabbaths of years (equaling) 49 years. In this manner, every 50th year was to be announced as a jubilee year.” (ISBE)

Following this so far? Hang in there: there will be no test.

“Lev,” above, refers to the Old Testament Book of Leviticus, which, “…contains laws regarding sacrifices, legal purity, holiness, atonement, the redemption of offerings, and other subjects. Levitical laws provided directives for all aspects of religious observance and for the manner Israelites were to conduct themselves with respect to God and each other.” [latter italics mine'”DCB ] (Dict).

Now, returning to the ISBE reference, above (keeping in mind those italicized words), the Year of Jubilee becomes, oh, quite a bit more intriguing:

“…All real property should automatically revert to its original owner (Lev 25:10; compare 25:13), and those who, compelled by poverty, had sold themselves as slaves to their brothers, should regain their liberty (Lev 25:10; compare 25:39).

“In addition to this, the Jubilee Year was to be observed after the manner of the sabbatic year, i.e. there should be neither sowing nor reaping nor pruning of vines, and everybody was expected to live on what the fields and the vineyards produced ‘of themselves,’ and no attempt should be made at storing up the products of the land (Lev 25:11…).

“Thus there are three distinct factors constituting the essential features of the Jubilee Year: personal liberty, restitution of property, and what we might call the simple life.” (ISBE)

Some historical background is critical. Here are breakdowns of the Year of Jubilee’s “essential features,” just mentioned:

“1. Personal Liberty: The 50th year was to be a time in which liberty should be proclaimed to all the inhabitants of the country. We should, indeed, diminish the import of this institution if we should apply it only to those who were to be freed from the bonds of physical servitude. Undoubtedly, they must have been the foremost in realizing its beneficial effects. But the law was intended to benefit all, the masters as well as the servants. They should never lose sight of their being brothers and citizens of theocratic kingdom. They owed their life to God and were subject to His sovereign will. Only through loyalty to Him were they free and could ever hope to be free and independent of all other masters. [italics mine'”DCB] (ISBE)

“2. Restitution of Property: The institution of the Jubilee Year should become the means of fixing the price of real property (Lev 25:15 … compare 25:25-28); moreover, it should exclude the possibility of selling any piece of land permanently (Lev 25:23), the next verse furnishing the motive: ‘The land is mine: for ye are strangers and sojourners with me…’ In Lev 27:17-25 we find a similar arrangement respecting such lands that were ‘sanctified unto Yahweh…’

“The crowning feature, though, was the full restitution of all real property in the Jubilee Year. The primary object of this regulation was, of course, the reversion of all hereditary property to the family which originally possessed it, and the reestablishment of the original arrangement regarding the division of the land. But that was not all; for this legal disposition and regulation of external matters was closely connected with the high calling of the Jewish people. It was a part of the Divine plan looking forward to the salvation of mankind.

“The deepest meaning of it (the Jubilee Year) is to be found in the apokatastasis tes basileias tou theou, i.e. in the restoring of all that which in the course of time was perverted by man’s sin, in the removing of all slavery of sin, in the establishing of the true liberty of the children of God, and in the delivering of the creation from the bondage of corruption to which it was subjected on account of man’s depravity’ (Rom 8:19 ff)…

“In the Year of Jubilee a great future era of Yahweh’s favor is foreshadowed, that period which, according to Isa 61:1-3, shall be ushered in to all those that labor and are heavy laden, by Him who was anointed by the spirit of the Lord Yahweh.” [italics, again, mine'”DCB] (ISBE)

Surprised? Yay or nay, there’s just a little bit more to follow:

“3. The Simple Life: The Jubilee Year, being the crowning point of all sabbatical institutions, gave the finishing touch as it were to the whole cycle of sabbatic days, months and years. It is, therefore, quite appropriate that it should be a year of rest for the land… (Lev 25:11…)… (There is justifiable) reason why we may say that one of the factors constituting the Jubilee Year was the ‘simple life…’ Nobody can deny that this afforded ample opportunity to develop the habit of living within very limited means…

“We may well ask: Did the Jewish people ever observe the Jubilee Year..? There is, indeed, a tradition according to which the Jubilee Year has never been observed — neither in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah nor at any later period. The truth of this seems to be corroborated by the silence of Josephus, who, while referring quite frequently to the sabbatic year, never once mentions the Year of Jubilee.”

* * * * *

So — it’s here where we’ll cut to the very end of two “chases:”

If you’re a Christian who strongly believes in both an inerrant Bible and God showering you with “bountiful” material gifts just because you claim to be a Christian (of whatever stripe, and there are countless), you’re walking on rigorously-horrid shaky ground, both theologically and philosophically (logic and ethics, chief among its sub-topics).

If you’re a Christian who embraces either an historic or an inerrant Bible, and who gravitates toward self-serving materialistically-driven riches, activities and entitlements, and yet you cringe at all those “less-thans” around you, all those destitute and homeless people who have the gall to “dirty” your neighborhoods and city streets, begging for whatever it is they’re begging for, then you’re not only on shaky religious grounds — you’re practicing blasphemy.

Well: Aren’t you?

An annotated comment is apt here: “Israelites are aliens and tenants on land that does not belong to them by right but that the Lord has given them as an inheritance. Thus the land is not private property, to be bought and sold speculatively.” (Annot, p. 158)

Remember how churches keep telling us we’re but “shepherds” of the land while living out our lives on Earth? Well, the passages, above, are cumulatively a major example of that notion.

And for those Christians who might poo-poo the legitimacy of the NRSV translation — and, honestly, none of these sacred texts were written in English! — here’s what today’s still widely-embraced King James’ translations have to corroborate Scripturally (Lev 25:1-19):

“*(1) And the Lord spake unto Moses in mount Sinai, saying, (2) Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When you come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a sabbath unto the Lord…

“(10) And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.

“(11) A jubile shall that fiftieth year be unto you: ye shall not sow, neither reap that which groweth of itself in it… (12) For it is the jubile; it shall be holy unto you… (13) In the year of this jubile ye shall return every man unto his possession.

“(14) And if thou sell ought unto thy neighbor, or buyest ought of thy neighbor’s hand, ye shall not oppress one another…

“(17) Ye shall not therefore oppress one another… (18) Wherefore ye shall do my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; and ye shall dwell in the land of safety. (19) And the land shall yield her fruit, and ye shall eat your fill, and dwell therein in safety.”

End of Scripture-quoting.

Okay, then. Everyone who feels “safety” today (mid-2010), please raise your hand.

(…)

Hardly anyone? Enough said.

There is no Biblical support whatsoever that justifies greed and entitlement, nor condemnation of those “less well-off.” No support, at all — as in, none.

Therefore, to some of you reading this:

Checkmate.

And so on.

* * * * *

Permit me here to return us to our prospective future: January 1, 2013 — a date I’m strongly recommending become the first day of the first-ever complete (and sincere) Year of Jubilee.

We’ll just have to work around some of the Biblical precepts inappropriate to these times — and adjust the starting dates, as well. The first day of the next calendar year after The End of the World seems like an apt and meaningful moment in world history, don’t you think? And by then, we’ll be chomping at the bit to make some meaningful and positive changes.

There are awful, greed-driven new laws heading our way in 2014, thanks to some recent ill-considered Congressional legislation — and so by December 31, 2013, one suspects we’ll have come to our senses (after an enforced year off from greed and entitlement), and will have legislatively changed those changes.

Now, yes, I know — no one in the present here and now (mid-summer 2010) is likely to take much of this very seriously. Greed and entitlement are about as entrenched in the Western and global cultures as they can be. You’ll (meaning me) be dismissed as a Scripture-quoting socialist!

No, I won’t. Please stay with me here — in your future. From that perspective, greedmongering collapsed like a house of cards … and not too long after this essay was edited and published!!

(…Which is pretty funny, being as I — me — haven’t even finished writing it as yet, at this time!)
(…at that time, I mean, of course)(…back here, in what itself will become, “back in the day.”)

* * * * *

“Here,” on the first day of 2013, our country, and most of the world, are (will still be) trying to move from figurative rubble into a newly designed and desired future. We’ll all be exhausted from Phase Two, “Reacting” to the mess handed our way via Phase One. The Great Leveling, indeed! This was all of our faults; in large part, because so few of us attempted to prevent it.

All we really have to do is act to kick in Phase Three (Recovery) — and declaring this year (2013) “The Year of Jubilee” would be a lovely and wonderful gesture. There should be lots of enthusiastic participation.

Creating good and plenty, by the way, for everyone (keep in mind, Christians and Jews — God’s watching!) is not merely just a great idea.

For the majority of us here in America, it’s an incontrovertible historic mandate!

American Muslims, Buddhists and those representing other religious institutions or beliefs are sure to join hands with us, as well. Why wouldn’t they? We’re talking peace and good will.

…Is there anyone left standing “now” who has a problem with that?

As for our agnostics and atheists — well, I’m pretty sure they won’t mind, either.

# # #

Tags:2013, the Year of Jubilee: Our 12-Month Sabbatical from Entitlement and Greed

2013 NFL Draft Preview – NFC North

Lately, the NFC North is frequently the most competitive division in football. Last year, I predicted the Chicago Bears, the Green Bay Packers, and the Detroit Lions would be competing for the division title. Of course, the Minnesota Vikings turned out to play much better – and the Lions much worse – than I, and many others, expected. Chicago, who went 10-6, lost out on the NFC #6 playoff seed to Minnesota by a tiebreaker, and Coach Lovie Smith was subsequently fired. I think this was the worst firing of the offseason, because Chicago is on the cusp of greatness and has most of the key parts in place. Replacing Smith with Canadian Football League coach Marc Trestman is just as wary a decision, but the Bears know better than I do. The Packers continued to dominate as they have done, until Colin Kaepernick destroyed them in the playoffs, making it look like adults versus eighth graders. The Lions, meanwhile, returned to insignificance thanks to their anemic defense, despite Calvin Johnson setting the receiving yards record with 1,964.

Chicago Bears (Last Season: 10-6; First Pick: 20th Overall; Number of Picks: 5)

Along with the Patriots, Panthers and Saints, the Bears have the fewest picks in the 2013 Draft with a mere five, so they need to spend them as wisely as possible. Though I disagreed with the firing of Lovie Smith, the truth is that this is the beginning of the Marc Trestman era, and he needs to draft a star in the first round. Even if that star is an interior offensive lineman! Some mocks have Alabama G Chance Warmack falling this far, but I’d expect it to be Jonathan Cooper of North Carolina instead. We all know by now that Jay Cutler plays better football when he’s standing up. After this, depth at wide receiver and tight end need to be addressed in the next few rounds. Alshon Jeffrey was good last year, but can’t be considered a definite WR2 to complement Brandon Marshall. Starting tight end Kellen Davis only caught 19 passes in 2012. Don’t be surprised if the Bears draft a quarterback in a middle or late round. Jay Cutler’s 2012 backups, Jason Campbell and Josh McCown, are both off the roster, and though McCown could still be brought back, Trestman will likely prefer to bring in “his own guy” through the draft (Miami of Ohio’s Zac Dysert?) instead.

Detroit Lions (Last Season: 4-12; First Pick: 5th Overall; Number of Picks: 8)

Most of the Lions’ problems in 2012 were on defense. There is obviously nothing wrong with the Matthew Stafford-Calvin Johnson connection, and even the running back-by-committee plan featuring Mikel Leshoure, Joique Bell and eventually Jahvid Best when he returns from injury is solid. Detroit was fourteenth in passing defense last year, but gave up 26 passing touchdowns and made only 11 interceptions, so I believe that if Alabama CB Dee Milliner is the best available player at number five, the Lions would be silly not to draft him. There are also those in the Ziggy camp – BYU DE/LB Ezekiel Ansah is projected by most as a Top Ten pick, and many think he should go to the Lions at number five. To be fair, the Lions lost their two best pass rushers in the offseason: DE Cliff Avril was a free agent and DE Kyle Vanden Bosh was cut. Either way, every defensive position can be improved through the draft. Detroit will also target some early/mid-round offensive linemen such as Syracuse T Justin Pugh because starting right tackle Gosder Cherilus left to play for Indianapolis.

Green Bay Packers (Last Season: 11-5; First Pick: 26th Overall; Number of Picks: 8)

You can chalk it up to lack of preparation for the style of offense, but seeing Colin Kaepernick rip Green Bay’s D to shreds in his eighth career start worried me. The other main problem in Wisconsin is the Packers’ lack of a running game to complement Aaron Rodgers. They had the twentieth-best rushing attack in the league, and leading rusher Alex Green had 464 rushing yards. By comparison, division rival Adrian Peterson ran for 497 yards… in the last three games of the regular season! Still, I don’t think all of that is enough to justify reaching for Alabama’s Eddie Lacy in the late first round. They can get almost any other running back they want in Round Two. The Packers are better off drafting UCLA DE Datone Jones at number 26 to shore up their defensive line, to help stuff guys like Peterson and Kaepernick. They should also draft an O-lineman in the third or fourth round to improve the line, because when you have the best QB under 30 years old in the league, you don’t want to see him scrambling. Even if he’s kind of good at that, too.

Minnesota Vikings (Last Season: 10-6; First Pick: 23rd Overall; Number of Picks: 11)

To say the Minnesota Vikings exceeded expectations in 2012 was an understatement. With Adrian Peterson coming back from his ACL injury stronger than ever and coming nine yards of breaking the single-season rushing record, the Vikings won games despite the mediocre effort of QB Christian Ponder. But how can Ponder and the passing game complement Peterson if he has nobody to throw to? Percy Harvin was a malcontent in his last days in Minnesota before he was traded to Seattle for a first-round pick, among others. The Vikes signed former rival Greg Jennings from Green Bay, but Devin Aromashodu and Jerome Simpson are really #3 and #4 receivers, not #2s. Since the Vikings have the 23rd and 25th picks, one of them should be spent on Clemson WR DeAndre Hopkins, or Tennessee WR Cordarelle Patterson if he somehow falls that far. The other should be a defensive tackle. The only Viking defensive tackle of note is Kevin Williams, and he’s turning 33. North Carolina DT Sylvester Williams not only will be the best on the board at that position, but he can replace former DT Pat Williams alongside Kevin to re-form the “Williams Wall.” UCLA’s DE Datone Jones can also play defensive tackle. Minnesota should stay away from Manti Te’o in Round One; they can draft a good inside linebacker, like Kansas State’s Arthur Brown or Rutgers’s Khaseem Greene, in the second round.

Tags:2013 NFL Draft Preview – NFC North

2013 Updated Film Adaptation of Henry James's WHAT MAISIE KNEW

Though written in the third-person, Henry James’s 1897 novel What Maisie Knew is told from the perspective of the young Maisie. The updating to contemporary New York City in the screenplay by Nancy Doyne and Carroll Cartwright maintains the situation of a young girl, Maisie (six-year-old Onata Aprile) shuttled around (when not forgotten) by her warring parents, rock-star-in-decline Susanna (Julianne Moore with dark hair) and successful British-born art dealer (Steve Coogan) Beale who were living together rather than being married and divorced.

In James’s novel, the parents were neglectful by nature. Their 21st-century versions work hard and don’t have much time for parenting. They at least think they love their daughter and tell her that they love her, but if (as I think it should!) parents hade to be licensed, theirs should be revoked.

Before Susanna locks Beale out of her commodious Manhattan apartment, au pair Margo (Joanna Vanderham with a Scottish accent) provides some stability for Maisie while her parents squabble. Beale lures Margo away, so the unfamiliar surroundings of his (also large and well-appointed) apartment contain some familiarity and continuity.

Seemingly on the spur of a moment that was probably soaked in alcohol or flying on drugs, Susanna marries a bartender named Lincoln (Alexander SkarsgÄrd, with traces of a Swedish accent). When he shows up to pick Maisie up from her school, he looks scruffy and Maisie does not know who he is. She later asks her mother if there was someone else as a flower-girl at the wedding, and is somewhat reassured to be told that there was not one at their small City Hall wedding.

A surprise (to those unfamiliar with the book anyway) is that Lincoln is a much better parent than Susanne or Beale. Maisie bonds with him, and with her parents too busy to pick her up from school (or to remember who is responsible for doing so on which days), Margo and Lincoln are in frequent contact. It is very easy to think that they should get together and have custody of Maisie. Their income is substantially lower, but they love Maisie.

I really can’t imagine a court granting them custody, or the vindictive Susanna letting the servant and the husband both of whom betrayed her raise Maisie. I don’t know what income or financial assets Margo has, or how Margo finds Maisie abandoned by her mother at a Chinese restaurant, or whose ocean-front property the family of choice occupies.

Besides updating the book, Doyne and Cartwright compress its duration of more than a decade into a matter of months, so that there is only one Maisie, the winning but not cloying Aprile. And radically shortening the arc of Maisie’s development, the movie’s ending differs from James’s (with its more pragmatic, older Maisie). And the authorial voice (with James’s serpentine sentences) does not make it to the screen (there are not voiceovers as in the more tragic “Beasts of the Southern Wilds” with its spunkier, far less-privileged young girl protagonist).

The Berkeley-educated directing duo Scott McGehee and David Siegel earlier (2001) directed Tilda Swinton as a very protective mother who is loved by a low-level gangster played by Goran Visnjic in “The Deep End.” I have not seen their “Bee Season” (2005 with Richard Gere (as a Berkeley professor) and Juliette Binoche, and Flora Cross as their daughter) or “Uncertainty” (2008 with Joseph Gordon-Levitt). In the two of their movies I have seen, there are odd but believable relationships between adults and between parents and children. “What Maisie Knew” has made some 2013 ten-best lists (mine is not even yet in development).

Tags:2013 Updated Film Adaptation of Henry James’s WHAT MAISIE KNEW

2013 NFL DRAFT - Five Offensive Stars Who Could Be Drafted First Overall

Over the years the NFL Draft has taken on such a huge significance that the annual rite of passage from colligate ranks to the pros has become a spectacle all its own, complete with its own television coverage. And while it’s still too early to tell who will be taken first overall in the 2013 NFL Draft, here are five can’t miss offensive first round prospects that may eventually vie for the coveted top pick position.

“The Sure Thing” – Matt Barkley (USC) QB
Based on preseason polls, Matt Barkley could easily lock up the top spot when the 2013 season rolls around. The USC signal caller would have been a top 10 pick had he come out in 2011, but one more good season from him could make him the next Andrew Luck. At 6-3, 230 lbs, Barkley possesses the prototypical size for a quarterback at the next level. Add to that the fact that he is a classic five-step drop back passer with a strong arm and that he plays in a pro-style offense, and you can begin to see why NFL scouts covet the USC Heisman hopeful. Intelligent as he is athletically gifted for the position, Barkley may someday draw favorable comparison to Peyton Manning. Picking up where he left off last season, Barkley opened up the year with 10 touchdowns in the first two games of 2012. Though a tough loss to Stanford in the season’s third game might make scouts think twice about taking him first overall.

“The Injured Star” – Tyler Wilson (Arkansas) QB
There is little doubt that the highly competitive SEC has produced some of the NFL’s best players. So when a quarterback of Wilson’s size (6-2, 220lbs) and talent comes out of the SEC, he merits instant consideration for the top spot of a draft. As Arkansas’ starting quarterback, Wilson possesses the mobility, arm and poise needed to start in the NFL. Though he sat through an apprenticeship behind Ryan Mallet, Wilson put in an impressive 2011 season in which he threw for 24 touchdowns to just 6 interceptions. However, the highly rated quarterback would suffer a head injury during the second game of the 2012 season, and had to sit out a 52-0 loss to Alabama during the team’s next game. How he bounces back from the injury may determine where he gets drafted next season.

“The Comeback Kid” – Marcus Lattimore (South Carolina) RB
Lattimore broke into the SEC with a fantastic freshman season in which he ran for 1,197 yards and 17 touchdowns, before injuries limited him to 7 games last season. Now seemingly fully recovered from the knee injury that hampered him his sophomore season, Lattimore is rated as one of the top two running backs available in the 2013 Draft. Strong and capable of moving the pile for extra yardage every time he touches the ball, Lattimore possesses the balance and vision of an NFL caliber back. The fact that he does not have elite speed may not matter if he follows a big 2013 season with a solid combine. Can he make his way up to the top pick? Only if he shows he is no longer an injury concern.

“The Dark Horse” – Keenan Allen (California) WR
After a record setting performance as a freshman in which he broke DeSean Jackson’s school record for catches (46), Keenan Allen showed he merits top ten consideration in the 2013 NFL Draft with a sophomore season in which he caught 98 passes for 1,343 yards. With quick feet, exceptional leaping ability, and excellent acceleration for a receiver his size (6-3, 205 lbs), Allen has the skill set to make an impact in the NFL. That Allen possesses NFL type talent should come as no surprise to anyone, since he was a heavily recruited prep receiver who was courted by some of the best teams in the country. Already rated the premiere receiver available in 2013, Allen may yet have an outside shot at being the first pick overall.

“The Record Setter” – Montee Ball (Wisconsin) RB
While it’s been a while since the first pick overall was used on a running back (1995), Montee Bell is an exceptional talent who is worthy of such consideration, albeit he is currently a dark horse candidate and his stock will rise and fall with his performance in 2013. As it is, Ball is coming off a 2011 season in which he tied Barry Sanders mark for touchdowns in a season with 39 while gaining 2,229 yards from scrimmage. When it comes to the next level, Ball exhibits both enough speed to get around the edge and strength to run between the tackles. A patient runner, the Wisconsin senior allows for the running lanes to develop in front of him, and then using the footwork found in most elite runners, he can slip through the wholes created by his line. Already a runner meriting first round consideration, one more record breaking season could make Ball the first pick overall next year.

Tags:2013 NFL DRAFT - Five Offensive Stars Who Could Be Drafted First Overall

2014 New England Patriots NFL Draft Report Card and Player Analysis

The New England Patriots coming off another year making the playoffs and finishing with a 12-4 record. Amazing consistency that just irks people. So many hate the Patriots for no other reason than their success. The Patriots made some key acquisitions in the off season and as usual lost a few of their players. Never fear Bill Belichick always has a plan. The Patriots needed to concentrate on DL, C, and WR. Vince Wilfork is getting up there in age and coming off an injury that sidelined him. He also demanded a release which I am sure didn’t endear him to the Patriots.

2014 NFL DRAFT PICK RECAP AND ANALYSIS

Dominique Easley DT, Florida Round 1 Pick #29

Belichick amazes taking a player that blew out his ACL and is a bit undersized. But what he lacks in size he makes up for in motor and speed. Will create constant disruption to the opponent’s timing and will be a player that will be hard to adjust to with his quick bursts at the QB, his stunts and his ability to play the edge. Maybe drafted a bit high, but I give Bill the benefit of the doubt. Personally I would have taken Bradley Roby at CB. Grade B+.

Jimmy Garoppolo QB, Eastern Illinois Round 2 Pick #30

Belichick is preparing for the days of no Tom Brady. Sad day that is one bad hit away from reality. The New England Patriots rarely keeps three QBs, so it could end of days for Ryan Mallett if Garoppolo catches on fast. With enjoy learning from the two master, Brady and Belichick and has all the qualities to star in the NFL and be the franchise QB for the New England Patriots well into 2025.

Bryan Stork C, Florida State Round 4 Pick #5

Will some proper coaching, with develop into a everyday journeyman Center. Has the raw skills and determination and fits perfectly into the Patriots pass first philosophy.

James White RB, Wisconsin Round 4 Pick #30

Guess Belichick hasn’t gotten the memo that RBs are a washed up commodity. Patriots are always developing and replacing their running backs. That has been a constant in the Belichick era. Is an able body pass blocking running back with a low center of gravity. Guards the football with his life, good hands catching the ball and has the speed and the moves to break one long. Reminds me of a bigger more versatile Darren Sproles or Danny Woodhead.

Cameron Fleming OT, Stanford Round 4 Pick #40

Stocking up on lineman, Skipped season year but graduated college with a degree in aeronautics and astronautics so this guy will digest an NFL playbook like it’s a dime store novel. Needs some help protecting the inside but is a large man and with some coaching can be a future starter if NASA doesn’t take him first. Great pick. Brains and Brawn.

Jon Halapio OG, Florida Round 6 Pick #3

Will be an anchor guard to protect the pocket. Typical hard headed, tough offensive lineman that The New England Patriots love.

Zach Moore DE, Concordia (MN) Round 6 Pick #22

Love this guy. Pure football player that after some coaching will mature into a Pro Bowl player. Sixth rounders do make Pro Bowlers so don’t laugh. Watch some tape and you will see. Some personal attention by the coaching staff will make this guy a monster.

Jemea Thomas CB, Georgia Tech Round 6 Pick #30

Raw talent that has all the skills to be a play-maker in the nickel and on special teams.

Jeremy Gallon WR, Michigan Round 7 Pick #29

Could be used to field punts. A small wide receiver but could also function like a Darren Sproles in a 5 wide out set. Definite situational football player for Belichick.

Analysis and overall draft grade

The New England Patriots is again an enigma. I thought they would go Jace Amaro in Round 1 and try to duplicate that two tight end set during the Gronk and Hernandez yeas but Belichick switches gears and takes a guy that was probably missing from every team’s round 1 board. Typical Bill. Makes sense developing a QB at this point of Brady’s career and Garoppolo is a good bet to succeed. Bill Belichick doesn’t miss the positions he needs and fills them accordingly and overall a good draft.

Draft Grade: B

I think he should have looked to draft a TE and a WR higher. I think he could have waited and grabbed Tom Savage or AJ McCarron in a later round. If I to point to one weakness in the Patriots draft it was being too slick and trying to maintain the, “you will never figure me out” legend that Bill Belichick is so fond of projecting.

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Tags:2014 New England Patriots NFL Draft Report Card and Player Analysis

2013 Outfielder Rankings: Top 10 Fantasy of MLB of to Draft

Depending on your league, you may have spots for specific outfield positions, or you may just have general outfielder positions where you are able to fill in any outfielder into that spot. This list is the top ten overall outfielders regardless of their specific position in the outfield.

#10. Matt Holliday – St. Louis Cardinals
With 27 home runs and 102 RBI, Matt Holliday showed that he is still one of the top outfielders in the game. At the age of 33 by the start of the 2013 season, don’t expect a significant increase in his statistics. The St. Louis Cardinals’ outfielder will have another very productive season for the Cardinals and should be in the top ten in fantasy points this season.

#9. Jay Bruce – Cincinnati Reds
At the age of 25, Jay Bruce had career highs in RBI with 99 and home runs with 34. Jay Bruce’s best seasons are still ahead of him, and if Bruce can stay away from strikeouts and improve on his .252 batting average from last year, expect him to be one of the most coveted outfielders in fantasy baseball. Even if he does not improve on his performance from last season, he is still worth top ten consideration in the outfield category.

#8. Jason Heyward – Atlanta Braves
Jason Heyward batted .269 with 27 home runs and 82 RBI. Heyward had a career high 21 steals and at the age of only 23, it is safe to say that Jason Heyward has not yet had his best season. The Braves outfielder will put up his best season yet in 2013, make sure not to let him slip by on draft day if you can get him in the 4th or 5th round.

#7. Carlos Gonzalez – Colorado Rockies
Carlos Gonzalez is only 27 and put together a solid 2012 With 22 home runs and 85 RBI in 135 games. Although fantasy players are usually not awarded points for being solid on the defensive end, h e won his first Gold Glove award for his performance in left field, and looks to improve his offensive numbers with a solid year in 2013.

#6. Giancarlo Stanton – Miami Marlins
Giancarlo Stanton is one of the hottest young players in all of baseball. In the 2012 season, he finished with 37 home runs, 86 RBI, and a .290 batting average through only 123 games. Stanton had a knee injury that should be completely healed. With a full and healthy season in 2013, Stanton could potentially have a top 5 fantasy baseball season out of all outfielders.

#5. Matt Kemp – Los Angeles Dodgers
Matt Kemp is coming off of knee surgery, but remains one of the top outfielders, and overall players, in all of baseball. Kemp played in just 106 games last year but was still able to hit 23 home runs and had 69 RBI. Kemp had an average of .303 and 9 steals. In 2011, his last fully healthy season, Kemp had 40 steals, 39 home runs, 126 RBI, and a .324 batting average. Before your draft, check out news about Kemp’s injury to make sure he is still on track to start spring training.

#4. Josh Hamilton – Free Agent
Josh Hamilton is one of the best hitters in all of baseball. Although he is a free agent, Hamilton remains one of the top picks as an outfielder regardless of what team he plays for in 2013. Hamilton had 43 home runs, 128 RBI, and a batting average of .285. If Hamilton is signed by a team with a hitter friendly ballpark, his fantasy value could actually increase.

#3. Andrew McCutchen – Pittsburgh Pirates
His fourth year in the big leagues was by far his best. Andrew McCutchen had a drastic increase in his batting average, going from .259 to an impressive .327. He had 20 steals, 31 home runs, and 96 RBI. McCutchen led all center fielders in batting average, on-base percentage, and hits. He is 26 years old and has the ability to match or improve on his numbers in 2013.

#2. Ryan Braun – Milwaukee Brewers
Braun is one of the best players in all of baseball. Braun had a .319 batting average, 41 home runs, 112 RBI, and 30 stolen bases. The Milwaukee Brewers are a solid run producing team and scored the 3rd most runs in MLB last year. The Brewers lineup gives Braun a lot of RBI opportunities and he should have another All-Star quality year.

#1. Mike Trout – Los Angeles Angels
Mike Trout had an unprecedented rookie year for the Los Angeles Angels. Trout not only won the American League Rookie of the Year Award, he nearly beat out Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera for the AL MVP Award. Trout is a true all around talent, as he had 49 steals, 30 home runs, 83 RBI, a .326 batting average, 129 runs, and a center field leading .963 OPS. Due to Braun’s consistency, taking him above Trout is not a bad pick, but Mike Trout is my top pick for outfielders to draft in your fantasy league for 2013.

*All statistics from MLB via MLB.com

Tags:2013 Outfielder Rankings: Top 10 Fantasy of MLB of to Draft

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