Archive for March, 2012

A Fan’s Perspective: MLB Spring Training


Couch Side's own Derek Barsness visited Arizona for a handful of Cactus League games during Spring Training this year. Photo by: Derek Barsness / © Couchsideshow,com

BY DEREK BARSNESS, Couchsideshow.com writer

After returning from a weekend in Arizona for a few Cactus League games, I remain convinced that baseball is the true American sport.

Many aspects of baseball’s spring training are desirable to both the avid and casual fan.  The first and probably biggest reason it’s so popular is the weather.  For the majority of the country we are still suffering the end of a harsh winter in March.  After six months of cold, snow and wind there are few things more appealing than sitting in 80+ degree weather drinking a cold beer and watching baseball under sunny skies.

For those of you who haven’t attended games at either the Cactus League or the Grapefruit League (in Florida) you need to put it on your bucket list.  The atmosphere at the games is incredible.  Literally every seat in the stadium has a great view.  For the younger crowds, many new stadiums are including a second level “Party Deck” which is an excellent option for spring breakers.  For more of the family atmosphere there is the lawn seating where the outfield bleachers usually are.  Make sure to arrive early and claim your spot with a blanket or two.  This is a great option if you have younger kids as there is usually plenty of room for them to run around and not have to sit still for two hours. (more…)


Men (and women) in Tights: A Rundown of WrestleMania 28


BY MATTHEW VINSKO, Couchsideshow.com contributor & BRETT MURDOCK, Couchsideshow.com writer

Although it remains a sort of cultural taboo, no one can deny the buildup to WrestleMania.

And while it’s not on par with the Super Bowl or any other championship game (or series), WrestleMania one-ups its opponents with sheer star powers. For example, people may not know what the Royal Rumble is, but they’ve definitely heard names like “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Hulk Hogan, and even Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

It’s only fitting then that The Rock is making his in-ring return to pro-wrestling this Sunday, April 1st for WrestleMania 28, emanating from Miami, Florida. The event is being dubbed as the biggest and best wrestling pay-per-view in history, so read on for a list of WrestleMania 28 predictions from Matthew Vinsko and Brett Murdock, two (sort of ashamed) wrestling fans:

Maria Menounos and Kelly Kelly vs. Beth Phoenix and Eve Torres

WWE Diva Kelly Kelly. Photo by: Krystal / Flickr

• Matt: Now I’m not saying this Divas match is going to open the show, but I figure we should get rid of it early in our predictions. Maria Menounos, host of TV’s Extra, is stepping in the ring for her first real match while teaming up with former Divas Champ, Kelly Kelly. Beth Phoenix has been on a roll lately, and Eve Torres’ recent heel (bad guy) turn makes this match more compelling than it should be, but considering Snooki competed, and won, at last year’s event, it’s hard to imagine the WWE bringing in a celebrity only to have them lose. Phoenix and Torres deserve better than this, but I doubt they’ll get it on “The Grandest Stage of them All.” Expect retribution come Monday Night Raw after a humiliating loss to a Diva with two first names and a current Dancing with the Stars competitor.

Winner: Kelly Kelly and Maria Menounous

• Brett: It’s unfortunate that the WWE is resorting to having the host of Extra step into the squared-circle, especially when it is going to overshadow the Divas champ in Phoenix. This is a fairly easy match to predict because at WrestleMania, celebrities will ALWAYS go over — just look at Snooki‘s appearance at last year‘s event. This will not be a technically-savvy match as those days are long gone with the current Divas division being more about looks and glamour than actual grappling. This match should occur in the middle of the event, so it is an opportunity to relieve your systems more than anything else. My hope is here is that after the match, Kharma — the new dominating force in the Divas division — comes out and destroys them all.

Winner: Kelly Kelly and Maria Menounos (more…)


Look out … because here comes the Suns


The Phoenix Suns have been one of the hottest teams in the NBA after the All-Star break. The Suns are 11-5 since the break, but have lost three of their last five. Should fans begin to panic? Couchsideshow blogger Wade McMillin says no! Photo by: Dr. Coop / Flickr

BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

Coming into the shortened 2011-2012 season, it didn’t seem like the Phoenix Suns would be the relevant.

Just one look at the team’s depth chart raised question of if these “old guys” could hang with the young legs of other NBA teams. I’ll admit, I wrote off the Suns when I heard Grant Hill would return as a starter and from Phoenix’s lack of offseason moves. Now, I’m not completely wrong as of right now.

If the playoffs started tomorrow, the Suns wouldn’t be dancing. But I may be eating my words in the next few weeks. Phoenix is somewhat taking the league by storm right now, posting one of the best records, so far, after the All-Star break. So I’m not a hater of the Suns anymore and residents of the desert can finally love a team that looked doomed at the beginning of the season.

After I heard that Phoenix is starting to impress, I asked myself, how? The Suns didn’t make any trades at the deadline and pretty much have the same roster they owned at the beginning of the season. And although they still look “old” on paper, it’s that veteran experience, led by coach Alvin Gentry, that has them playing with heart.

I’m not a part of the Suns’ locker room and I won’t pretend to know why this squad is playing the best basketball out of all their Western Conference counterparts right now, but I would like to believe it’s more than just having a favorable home schedule right after the All-Star break.

(more…)


Bidding farewell to a legend: Fan reaction of Chipper Jones’ retirement


BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones announced that he will retire after the 2012 season. Photo by: SD Dirk / Flickr

It’s never easy to quit something you love.

Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones know that all too well, announcing his retirement effectively after the 2012 season. There’s really no question that the hours following that warm afternoon must have been hard after the 40-year-old declared his decision when his beloved Braves wrapped up what would be one of Jones’ final games at Atlanta’s camp in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The choice was one that had been coming and one that any press member following the team was salivating to hear.

The Braves came into the Spring with the same ‘ol team that fell flat on its face during a September collapse that ended one game short of yet another playoff birth. Yet, the spring training attention wasn’t focused on how Atlanta would bounce back. Instead, for about the third year in a row, all eyes were on No. 10. And all ears were waiting to hear if Jones would continue to play another season despite his constant leg problems that have haunted the corner infielder. (more…)


Photo Slideshow: NCAA men’s basketball tournament


BY STAYSON ISOBE, Couchsideshow.com writer

Couch Side’s own Stayson Isobe actually worked at the West Regional of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and was able to snap some shots for our site. We would just share the slideshow on this post, but Kizoa’s embedding doesn’t seem to be compatible with Word Press. You can still access Stayson’s slideshow from March Madness, however, by clicking the link below:

Click here to see behind the scenes photos from the NCAA Tournament


Behind the scenes of the 2012 NCAA men’s basketball tournament


Couchsideshow.com blogger Stayson Isobe poses before a game at the NCAA men's basketball tournament in Tempe, Ariz. Isobe worked at the West Regional of the tournament, gathering quotes for the NCAA.

BY STAYSON ISOBE, Couchsideshow.com writer

Last week, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work the NCAA Men’s Basketball West Regional in Tempe and what an experience it was.

For those that don’t know, when I’m not moonlighting as a Couch Side writer, I work at Northern Arizona University as a graduate assistant in the media relations department as the Sports Information Director for the Lumberjack women’s soccer and men’s and women’s tennis programs.

This past fall, Arizona State, the host of last week’s West Regional Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight games at the U.S. Airways Center, asked our media relations department if we would like to volunteer at the games and really who would turn down an opportunity like that? Well the four of us in the department as well as our assistant AD for marketing made the trip down to the Valley last Wednesday and I can’t lie, I was stoked (and again who wouldn’t be?) (more…)


Couch Side’s 2012 MLB preview/player rankings


BY Couchsideshow.com staff

With the Major League Baseball season just days away, Couchsideshow.com has complied all 13 of its player ranking blogs, putting them in one convenient post for an overall look at the best players in baseball. This is a great post for fantasy rankings and a great way to simply see our prediction of who will be the best of the best in 2012. Just think, you can even come back here maybe midway through the year and comment about how wrong we were. So without any further hold up, here’s the list of links to past blogs about the top players by position in the MLB:

• Catchers by Wade McMillin

• First basemen by Stayson Isobe

• Second basemen by Brett Murdock

• Shortstops by Brett Murdock

• Third basemen by Stayson Isobe

• Left fielders by Wade McMillin

• Center fielders by Brandon Smith

• Right fielders by Wade McMillin

• Designated hitters by Brandon Smith

• Starting pitchers by Trevor Gould

• Setup men by Chuck Constantino

• Closers by Chuck Constantino

 


Couch Side Epidose Nine: NFL Offseason Special


BY Couchside Show.com staff

We told you we would be back! Couch Side, the podcast, returns for it’s eighth episode. Host Wade McMillin and fill in host, Phil Quick (no pun attended) hit the latest NFL headlines hard. Listen to the Phil’s debut with Wade as the dominant duo discuss Peyton Manning signing with the Denver Broncos, Tim Tebow’s trade to the Jets, the New Orleans Saints Bounty Program, Chipper Jones’ retirement, Michael Bush signing with the Chicago Bears and the Sweet 16 of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Click below to download or stream Couch Side the podcast …

Click here to listen to Couch Side via Talk Show

Listen to Couch Side via iTunes


Arizona Diamondbacks 2012 team preview


BY BRANDON J. SMITH, Couchsideshow.com writer

Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton may just be an early-season MVP candidate this year. He led the N.L. West champion Diamondbacks in home runs and RBI last season. Photo by: Paul Martinez / Flickr

The 2011 Arizona Diamondbacks were one of my favorite individual teams ever to track and follow throughout the season; they provided everything you wanted out of an upstart, surprise team. There was an equal share of surprise pitching performances (Ian Kennedy), an emerging star coming into his own (Justin Upton), a fan favorite with a unique perk (“Tatman” Ryan Roberts) and a bullpen that saw significant improvement from the previous year. Their torrid streak starting somewhere in mid-May, along with some lucky breaks in the division (Rockies giving up on Ubaldo, Buster Posey breaking his ankle, and the Dodgers being financially incompetent) allowed for one hell of a ride. Of course, as many remember, it all came to an end in game 5 of the NLDS in Milwaukee as Njyer Morgan lined a J.J. Putz fastball up the middle, and thus a run at the World Series title was over.

Offseason review

This offseason, general manager Kevin Towers decided not to rest on his laurels and continue to improve an already good team in an attempt to make them great. Did he succeed in this? Let’s examine his most significant moves. (more…)


In 2009, the Saints came marching in


New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton will be suspended for the entire 2012 NFL season for allegedly knowning and hiding a "bounty program" that gave players bonuses for injuring their opposition. Photo by: Alysha Jordan / Flickr

BY TREVOR GOULD, Couchsideshow.com writer

Led by cannon armed passing aficionado Drew Brees, the New Orleans Saints’ high-powered offensive aerial assault lit up the highlight reels and posed a significant threat to even the most talented defensive secondaries. The “who dat” Saints racked up an impressive 13-3 regular season record and entered the playoffs with unrelenting momentum and confidence. They went on to beat the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 in Super Bowl XLIV, earning the first Super Bowl victory in franchise history.

Yet the Saints success was much sweeter then just their championship.

They singlehandedly helped revitalize the world-weary city of New Orleans and bring it from the depths of despair into a new era of optimism. Many Saints players were active members in the community, and could be seen helping clean up Hurricane Katrina’s devastation. The team was much more than a successful sporting franchise to New Orleans: it was a beacon of hope and renewal, and gave the citizens an emotional outlet to heap their hopes and dreams upon. At the helm of this revolution was the illustrious young coach Sean Payton, a man who represented every positive quality an individual could ever ask for.

Now, after the recent revelations of the Saints bounty system, Payton has been suspended for the entire 2012 season. All the pride and glory has been swept away. The gaudy images of the Saints hoisting the championship trophy seem warped and distorted, a distant memory that is slowly eroding before our very eyes. (more…)


Fans’ views: Manning, Tebow thoughts throughout the day


BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

Former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning agreed to a five-year, $96 million contract with the Denver Broncos on Tuesday morning. Photo by: Angie Six / Flickr

Throughout Tuesday morning, after Peyton Manning signed a $96 million deal with the Denver Broncos, tons of people have been lighting up FaceBook with heaps of opinion on Manning coming in and Tim Tebow about to be on his way out.

Being that most of my friends on FB are from Wyoming, a lot of them are Broncos fans and say it’s time to win. And of course, with a skilled veteran as their new man under center, they’ve forgotten that’s exactly what Tebow helped them do last season. I have been a Tebow fan since about half way through his senior year of high school becuase I am — above all — a Florida Gator fan. And this treatment, this disregard for a guy who guided the Broncos to the playoffs last year sickens me.

I understand it’s one thing to be happy about Peyton Manning coming into town, but it’s another to forget the past and the man who somewhat was responsible for turning the Broncos around last year. So a lot of people have asked me what I think about Tebow. I’ve also had to put some of these haters in check. Here is a few of my FaceBook conversations and wall posts (excuse the grammar) since the Manning deal went down:

• The latest: I’m wearing a Tebow jersey today. A Florida Tebow jersey. And I just want to say to all the Broncos fans, congrats on getting your guy, but don’t drag Tebow through the mud. He got a pretty pathetic team into the playoffs and then literally had his best game of his NFL career in a victory against the AFC champions. Show some appreciation instead of saying oh now we’re going to the Super Bowl. He’s just one player. And the Donkeys don’t compare to the Colts teams that Peyton had. Let’s not forget, too. Little brother has more rings, and Peyton has lost more under pressure in the Playoffs than he has won. Broncos fans and NFL fans alike make fun of his relationship with God, and now they act like Peyton Manning IS God. Give me a break.

(more…)


Manning signs with Broncos: So what’s next for Tebow?


BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

It appears quarterback Tim Tebow‘s time in the Mile High City is over after the Denver Broncos signed perennial Hall Of Fame gunslinger Peyton Manning on Monday morning.

With a new quarterback in place, it’s very unlikely Tebow will be with the Broncos by the time training camp rolls around. In fact, it’s almost a certainty that the former Heisman Trophy winner will be dealt very soon. ESPN football analyst said the latest rumors surrounding Tebow is that he could wind up as a New England Patriot. Those rumors surfaced before the Peyton Manning deal. Now it’s known — league wide — that Tebow is on the trading block. Enter the Miami Dolphins. After the Dolphins lost out on free agent quarterback Matt Flynn, the franchise is screaming it needs a new QB loudly.

With the rumors still swirling out there in cyber space, Couch Side will entertain the idea of Tebow as a Patriot or a Dolphin:

TEBOW AS A PATRIOT

Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow may be traded after the team signed veteran QB Peyton Manning on Monday. Photo by: Jeffrey Beall / Flickr

• Under a legend: The best thing for Tebow’s development is for him to sit behind an experienced starter for a few years. And who would be a better mentor than two-time league MVP Tom Brady. Now don’t get me wrong. Tebow would also reap the benefits of being Manning’s backup. It just seems the Broncos and coach John Fox want nothing to do with the former Florida star, however. So there’s a very good chance that Tebow could wind up in New England via a trade. The Patriots have a boatload of picks and I could see them giving the Broncos a fourth rounder in this year’s draft for Tebow. The trade would be a great long-term investment for the Pats and ultimately it could even create a healthy battle for New England’s No. 2 spot between Tebow and former Arkansas standout Ryan Mallet, who the Patriots drafted in the third round last year. We all know Brady has perhaps five or even six years left before he is ready to call it quits. And it would be silly to think he won’t end his career as a Patriot. And if Tebow sticks around for that entire time with Brady and the infamous Patriots coaching staff, he will be a much better player because of it. And once Brady retires, Tebow may finally be that QB everyone expected him to be. I guarantee his mechanics will only improve with Brady’s guidance. And as a Tebow fan, I’ve always wanted to see him sit behind a crafty veteran. Tom Brady is just that. (more…)


Open letter to Kevin Kolb


BY BRETT MURDOCK, Couchsideshow.com writer 

Dear Kevin Kolb,

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb will enter training camp with a chip on his shoulder after a disappointing season in 2011. Photo by: Lehigh Valley, PA / Flickr

I’m sure you are aware of the news that your team, the Arizona Cardinals, are no longer in the running for the services of Peyton Manning. That revelation came to disappointment for many Red Birds fans alike, but probably came as a relief to you.

Take the news with a grain of salt, because it says something about you too.

Sure, you were injured for most of last season because your offensive line was like a swinging saloon door at the entrance to an Old West tavern. And yeah you had a miniscule off-season to learn, understand and execute a new offense.

But signing that massive contract extension put a target on your back to perform well when you were physically able to and you did not come through.

Now with this Manning frenzy, the Cardinals were thinking of cutting you if they were to land the future Hall of Famer. Well, they did not and Manning is down to two other teams.

Now is the time to get down to business and prove to the fan base that you are an NFL-caliber quarterback. Your 58 percent completion rate, nine touchdowns and 1955 yards in 2011 are not enough. Neither is your 3-6* record as a starter (the asterisk is because you were knocked out of one game very early and your team still won).

When you come up to training camp this summer, you better have a huge chip on your shoulder. (more…)


Spring Training Teasers: Couch Side’s top five closers for 2012


BY CHUCK CONSTANTINO, Couchsideshow.com writer

No longer will the skipper climb out of the dugout, walk to the mound and signal for the closer in the seventh inning, heck, rarely will they call for him in the eighth. Most guys throw one inning, unless it is an important game, then the closer will get the next game or two off. Either way, closers are the guys who slam the door shut, or are the goat for the night. Here’s a few pitchers who I would call upon in the ninth innings this season.

5. John Axford, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers

Milwaukee Brewers closer John Axford earned 40-plus saves during his first year as Milwaukee's go-to-guy in the ninth inning. Photo by: Steve Paluch / Flickr

Shoved into the closer role, Axford did not disappoint. He posted 46 saves, 86 strikeouts in 73.2 innings pitched and blew only two saves. He got stronger after the all-star break and cut down on his walks. His 49 percent ground ball rate helped him record an ERA of 1.95. Although he has Francisco Rodriguez behind him, Axford has proved to be composed. One thing that worries me is his 59 hits given up. He will need to get more swing and misses without the same lineup in Milwaukee. (more…)


Lakers overcome preseason debacle with solid trades at deadline


BY MATTHEW VINSKO, Couchsideshow.com contributor 

The Los Angeles Lakers acquired point guard Ramon Sessions from the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday afternoon. Photo by: Bridget DS / Flickr

December, 2011 was a time to rejoice for basketball fans. After 161 painstaking days, basketball was set to commence on Christmas Day with a plethora of games set to kick off the NBA season in style. What wasn’t to like?

But December wasn’t pleasant for Lakers’ fans. No, I’m not talking about the opening day loss to the Bulls in a nail biter; I’m actually one of the few people proud of the Lakers for putting up that much of a fight against the reigning MVP without Andrew Bynum. What made opening day sour for many a Lakers’ fan was David Stern’s controversial overruling of a three-team deal that would have ultimately landed Chris Paul, arguably the best pure point guard in the league, in the same backcourt as ‘The Black Mamba,’ Kobe Bryant.

That was OK, though. For the most part, the same team that won back-to-back titles was intact, albeit two years older.

But it wasn’t OK for Lamar Odom, who was shipped to the Dallas Mavericks for a first round pick in order to clear up salary cap. Odom, apparently the sensitive type, couldn’t stand the thought of being included in the trade that would have sent Paul to L.A. Trading the reigning Sixth Man of the Year for a draft pick can be excused considering the Lakers’ salary cap issues with regards the luxury tax. Financial woes aside, the 2012 draft is already being considered one of the deeper drafts in recent history, so no harm, no foul, right? (more…)


Couch Side Podcast Episode Eight: Free Agent Frenzy


BY Couchsideshow.com staff

After about a month away from the microphone, Couch Side hosts Wade McMillin and Craig Paul are back for another sports-packed podcast. This week’s episode is all about NFL Free Agency, the NBA Trade Deadline, Chipper Jones, Syracuse basketball and Greg Oden. Click Below to Listen to the Couch Side Show podcast, now on iTunes. Don’t forget to subscribe.

Click here to listen to Couch Side via Talk Show

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Following NFL Free Agency: Jags jolt offense with pair of signings


BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

The Jacksonville Jaguars signed former Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne as an unrestricted free agent on Wednesday. Photo by: photo-gator / Flickr

I didn’t believe the Jacksonville Jaguars would be relevant this NFL offseason.

The Jags showed that they are determined to get better in 2012-2013 by upgrading their offense very early into the NFL Free Agency period. Jacksonville went after skill positions, agreeing to terms with quarterback Chad Henne and wide receiver Laurent Robinson. Now, Henne may not be the sexiest signing, but Floridians should be ecstatic about the Jaguars landing Robinson.

There’s no doubt Jacksonville needed a wide reciever. One look at the team’s depth chart would leave most NFL fans scratching there heads, asking who is this guy? Mike Thomas proved to be somewhat of a bust as Jacksonville’s primary receiver last season and when the hands behind him are the likes of Jarett Dilliard and Chastin West, there’s not much hope for a quarterback — especially when Blaine Gabbert is under center.

So instead of accepting mediocrity like the Jaguars have been know to do, Jacksonville went after a playmaker. Some may argue that Robinson hasn’t earner that title quite yet, but I expect big things from the Illinois State prodigy. And my proof is how the six-year pro, who was released twice last season, stood out with an offense full of weapons. Yes, Tony Romo had a lot of talented targets last season. Little did we know that Miles Austin and Dez Bryant wouldn’t be the top ones. Injury definitely played a factor, but that shouldn’t discredit how Robinson performed last year at all. (more…)


Spring Training Teasers: Couch Side’s top five setup men for 2012


BY CHUCK CONSTANTINO, Couchsideshow.com writer

During the live ball era, the job of pitchers have slowly, but surely changed. No longer is a starter relied on for eight or nine innings a night, and closers do not have to throw three innings. You think they would, given the amount of money closers receive in their contracts.

Now, set-up men and relievers are the bridge from the seventh to the ninth inning, where they hand the ball over to the manager. It’s the dirty work, and too often are these names forgotten, unless you glance over the box score and see the letter ‘H’ next to their names. Here’s a list of the top-5 set-up men in baseball.

5. Eric O’Flaherty, LHP, Atlanta Braves

Atlanta Braves lefty Eric O'Flaherty makes it tough for opposing teams to beat the Braves at the end of games. Photo by: Paul Kehrer / Flickr

The Atlanta Braves’ bullpen is pretty stacked, and most of the attention is given to Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel. In the 2010-11 season, O’Flaherty appeared in 78 games, and surrendered eight earned runs over 73.2 innings pitched. The right-hander sported a 1.09 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP while recording 32 holds on the year. Considering all the other arms on the team, not too shabby. O’Flaherty is one of the more underrated pitchers in baseball, he’s generated grounders 55.1 percent of the time over past three years combined. He’ll be called upon all season long, if he stays healthy.

(more…)


Spring Training Teasers: Couch Side’s top five Designated Hitters for 2012


BY BRANDON J. SMITH, Couchsideshow.com writer

Designated hitter isn’t an easy position to play, even though in theory you’d think it would be. You can relax during the fielding portion of the game, and wait your turn to hit.

Historically this hasn’t been proven true. DH requires an adjustment that most everyday players will struggle to adapt, as it requires a different routine both mentally and physically. Some guys are cut out for it, some aren’t. And now, with the position being used to utilize platoon matchups, there are very few full time DHs. Thankfully there are enough to put together a top five list, so enjoy.

5. Jesus Montero, Seattle Mariners

The rookie slugger was dealt this offseason from the Yankees to the Mariners for young flamethrower Michael Pineda, a rare trade of raw talent for raw talent. All the reports over the last several years indicated that Montero didn’t have what it took to be a full-time catcher, and was projected as a DH going forward. He moves from a friendly hitting park in the Bronx to the spacious and cavernous Safeco Field. Montero has power to all fields and most importantly, the opposite field as a right handed batter.  The projection system ZiPS says that Montero will hit .257/.322/.438 with 21 home runs and 68 RBI. Consider the fact that Montero will be facing tough competition in Los Angeles and Texas, having to hit the majority of his games in a tough park, and the fact that the Mariners have ranked last in runs scored in the AL the past three seasons. Either way, Montero should far appropriately in his first go around, maybe not Eric Hosmer good, but still good.

Chicago Whitesox Designated Hitter Adam Dunn set career lows last year, but baseball fans can never discredit his power. Photo by: Scott Ableman

4. Adam Dunn, Chicago White Sox

Yes, we know that Dunn had one of the worst seasons in recent memory (any way you slice it; a .159 batting average is wretched.) Dunn has been pretty easy to project throughout his career; he strikes out at a high rate, walks at a high rate, and hits around 40 homers per season. Take the good with the bad and he’s been a reliable run producer for the first 10 years of his career with the Reds and Nationals. A move to the White Sox and a permanent DH position didn’t aide his usual stats, but a lack of adjustment in all phases of his game produced a pathetic 11 home runs in nearly 500 plate appearances. What’s even stranger is that he had 75 walks to 66 hits! I wonder how often that happens. Is there hope on the horizon for Mr. Dunn? We believe so, as these types of drastic regressions hardly ever happen, so you’d think and hope it was an exaggerated fluke season.  If the law of averages equal out, Dunn should return to a semblance of his former self. (more…)


NBA Trade Deadline: Top five players who could be dealt


BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

With March Madness, NFL free agency and baseball’s Spring Training in full swing at the beginning of March, sports fans may forget about the NBA Trade Deadline on March 15.

It may be a snoozer of a deadline as the playoffs begin just six short week later and as some general manger begin to question whether this is the right year to wheel and deal. The NBA lockout put a hinder on a lot of things and this year’s trade deadline may feel the negative effects the most. So NBA fans, don’t be holding your breath that your team is going to make that one move to put them over the top next week. It likely won’t happen. Be that as it may, deal will be done. They probably just won’t have that blockbuster title with them.

Obviously there will be a lot of discussion over Dwight Howard and the ongoing saga of him going to the L.A. Lakers. But other than that, the transactions will be at a minimum during this deadline. So with not much to work with and even fewer rumors, here’s Couch Side’s predictions on the top five players who could be dealt close or the day of the NBA Trade Deadline:

Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard could be the best player traded on Wednesday's NBA Trade Deadline. Photo by: Lubright / Flickr

1. Dwight Howard, center, Orlando Magic

Throughout the season, Howard has been asked to be dealt. First, it was the Lakers. Then it was the New Jersey Nets. Hell, the L.A. Clippers were even up for discussion as a possible new team. Regardless of everyone wanting him, no one was willing to pay the price that Orlando wanted. Hence, the 26-year-old is still in black and blue and the Magic are the third best team in the East. So why would the Magic want to trade him? It’s simple. D-How does not want to be there. He wants to win a ring right away. And the only way he could do so is if he ends up with the Lakers, which is about a 50-50 chance right now, in my opinion. According to a handful of general managers, teams are actually waiting on Big D to be traded before they’ll even test the swapping grounds. So if Howard doesn’t get traded soon, the deadline may be even quieter. But L.A. will most likely be the front runner if anything happens at all. Howard would be walking away from $30 million if he accepted a trade. What’s even worse, to me, is that if he gets traded to another team that already has their superstar (i.e. Kobe Bryant with the Lakers) he won’t be the main dude in that city. I honestly believe the Magic can win the Finals as early as this year, but that’s only if Superman stays in Orlando.  And the only way he’ll be playing in yellow and purple is if the Lakers are willing to trade Andrew Bynum, which a lot of sources say he will only be moved in a trade for Howard. So if L.A. is willing to part ways with their center of the future for basically the same thing only more talented, than Howard may just end up in L.A. by Wednesday. (more…)


Spring Training Teasers: Couch Side’s top five right fielders for 2012


BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

In part nine of Couch Side’s series of the best players in the MLB by position, I’ll take a look at the top five right fielders for 2012.

I grew up playing the undesirable position in legion baseball, but I never let position No. 9 ever bother me. It’s one of the most valuable spots on the diamond, which is why managers choose to place their strongest throwing outfielders in the right corner. Despite Ichiro’s raw fielding ability, the Seattle Mariners never really thought bout placing him in center to chase down balls. His cannon was to valuable. It’s a position that may not get a lot of hype, yet we can never question it’s importance.

Here’s five right fielders in Major League Baseball who show us just how vital right field can be to a big-league club.

1. Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays

Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista has hit at least 40 home runs during the past two seasons. Photo by: Josh McConnell / Flickr

When will teams start pitching around this guy? It had better be this year or MVP voters may want to give Jo Baut a little more love. Last season, the 31-year-old set a career high in batting average (.301) while smacking 43 home runs and 103 RBI. In 2010, he easily led the league with 54 homers and 124 RBI. To say the least, this guy is now just entering his prime and he’s doing it loudly. Bautista’s power numbers are somewhat unmatched. Not a single player has belted at least 50 home runs during the past two seasons and maybe only a couple have reached the 40-home run plateau last season. I expect nothing but great things in the future from Bautista. And if he ever gets on an actual contender, his numbers should only improve with more protection in the lineup.  (more…)


Professional hockey players should not play in Olympics


Players from the National Hockey League have been allowed to participate in the Winter Olympics since 1995. Photo by: roaming-the-planet / Flickr

BY JOHN SCOTT, Couchsideshow.com contributor

Every four years when the Olympics come around, there’s talk about whether professional hockey players should be allowed to compete in the Winter Olympics.

In all honestly, I think pro hockey players should not be allowed to compete in the Olympics, mainly for two reasons: fame and fortune. A little more than half of the men’s hockey players compete in the NHL, and some teams are made up entirely of NHL players.  The 2014 Olympics is Sochi, Russia, should mainly be comprised of amateur athletes representing their country.

Amateur hockey players should be the ones putting on their country’s jersey because they play the game out of love, not for money. Most Olympic athletes receive monetary support from their country, but these amateur players would much rather play for the love of the game. Many NHLers already make seven figures per year and compete in an 82-game season, sometimes more. They’ve already made it to the top of the hockey level, and it’s time for them to let amateurs take the Olympics. Maybe these amateurs competing in the Olympics can get noticed and move on to a higher level of hockey, such as the NHL.

Also, the NHL players already have the fame in the sport, so why not step aside to let the not-so-popular players noticed? Let the countries show how good they are by the amateur players they can produce, not by how many NHLers they can send to the Olympics.

Five words: 1980 USA Olympic Hockey Team. Done. That’s all that needs to be said. This team was a true Olympic team, consisting of 20 college players who ended up beating the supposed unstoppable Sovies. Those are the teams I want to see in the Olympics, and I’m pretty sure I speak for most hockey fans on this one.

Herb Brooks nailed it when he said, “All-Star teams fail because they rely solely on an individual’s talent,” and this quote can go both ways, for All-Star teams and for Olympic teams. The Olympic hockey teams would be better and more fun to watch if they consisted of amateur players because they wouldn’t rely on an individuals talent. Instead, they would work as a team just like the 1980 team did.

Allowing only amateur players in the Olympics would allow for them to showcase their skills to world,  and to let the world see outstanding amateurs they wouldn’t have been able to see if professional hockey players were allowed to play.

Who would not want to see another team like the 1980 Olympic team? Going back to amateurs in the Olympics would put the Olympics back where they should be. Who wouldn’t want to see another Olympics like that in Lake Placid in 1980 and to be able to say they witnessed the impossible happen?

John Scott is a junior at Cody High School and longtime youth hockey player in the Wyoming region.


Spring Training Teasers: Couch Side’s top five center fielders for 2012


BY BRANDON J. SMITH, Couchsideshow.com contributor

As part of The Couch Side’s MLB positional power rankings, we turn to Centerfield, arguably one of the more important positions in the game.

But first, here is my 10-6 to build anticipation

10. Cameron Maybin, San Diego Padres

9. Dexter Fowler, Colorado Rockies

8. Drew Stubbs, Cincinnati Reds

7. Chris Young, Arizona Diamondbacks

6. Shane Victorino, Philadelphia Phillies

Now onto the cream of the crop, the five best centerfielders in the game right now.

5. Michael Bourn, Atlanta Braves 

The Braves leadoff hitter split time between Houston and Atlanta last season, and he still led the NL in stolen bases with 61. He’s a fantasy goldmine, simply put. He has two gold gloves in his short career, and rates favorably with his defense. What is he expected to achieve this year? The projection model ZiPS has him hitting .270 with 97 runs scored, and 56 stolen bases. I’ll take that, you’ll take that, and we’ll all take that.

Boston Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury set personal bests on batting average, home runs and RBI last season. Photo by: Chris Walton / Flickr

4. Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston Red Sox 

This was a tricky one; Ellsbury in 2011 had a near MVP season at the dish, only to have his teammates do their best to sabotage those efforts, which they did. Assuming the Red Sox won’t self destruct with a montage of alcoholic behavior, and unhealthy food choices, they’ll be back in the postseason, and so will the 4th best centerfielder in baseball. Jacoby had a herculean spike in power last year. The HR totals from his first four healthy seasons look like this,

2007: 3

2008: 9

2009: 8

2011: 32

That’s pretty remarkable, almost Jose Bautista-like. The question of whether or not he has a season close to that production remains to be seen, but it would be hard to believe that his peripherals would enable him to improve on such a feat.

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Spring Training Teasers: Couch Side’s top five left fielders for 2012


BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

For part seven of Couch Side’s 12 part series on the best baseball players by position for 2012, I’m going the be showing a lot of love for the National League’s top left fielders. This list was an easy pick before I remembered that Ryan Braun’s suspension had been lifted. So although I don’t agree with his actions, until the man is proven guilty, he’ll lead off Couch Side’s list of the best in L.F.

Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun is Couch Side's top left fielder after almost winning the triple crown last season. Photo by: Dinur Blum / Flickr

1. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers

Like it or not, Ryan Braun was the N.L. MVP last season. And hate it or love it, he will be playing this season despite some faulty handling of his drug test. With that out of the way, let’s focus on how this guy plays. Braun almost won the Triple Crown last season, falling just short in each category by the slimmest of margins. By hitting for power and contact last year, Braun proved that he may just be the best hitter in baseball. And it’s hard not to call a guy who hit 33 bombs, 111 RBIs and carried a .332 batting average just that. You never saw guys like Barry Bonds or Mark McGwire hit for average. That’s why it’s hard for me not to love Ryan Braun just a little. He may have cheated, but at least he didn’t gun for the single season home run record. Instead, he was Mr. Baseball last season. And if he is completely innocent, I feel like he could be one of the best of all time. After all, the guy is an extremely talented outfielder, feared hitter and a threat on the base paths with 33 swipes last season.

2. Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers

If Hamilton can avoid injury and any sort of bad press by “relapsing,” he may just have a breakout season this year. It’s a stretch to say a former MVP is still capable of a breakout season, but Hamilton is due after missing solid stretches of time during the past two summers. We all know he is capable of 30 or even 40 home runs and is a lock to secure 100 RBIs. With a full season, he may just throw his name back into the MVP hat and Hamilton will certainly be looking to improve his numbers, considering this is the final year of his contract.

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