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Posted on: September 12, 2009 12:29 am
Edited on: September 12, 2009 12:36 am
 

2009 NFL Preview - Part 3 (Playoffs and Rankings)

Continued from Part 2.


AFC Wild Card Playoffs

(6) Tennessee vs. (3) San Diego

(5) Baltimore vs. (4) Indianapolis

 

AFC Divisional Playoffs

(4) Indianapolis vs. (1) Pittsburgh

(3) San Diego vs. (2) New England

 

AFC Championship Game

(3) San Diego vs. (1) Pittsburgh


NFC Wild Card Playoffs

(6) New Orleans vs. (3) Chicago

(5) New York vs. (4) Arizona


NFC Divisional Playoffs

(5) New York vs. (1) Philadelphia

(3) Chicago vs. (2) Atlanta


NFC Championship Game

(2) Atlanta vs. (1) Philadelphia


Superbowl

(3) San Diego vs. (1) Philadelphia


Superbowl Champion

Philadelphia Eagles


There you have it, but some of you will want power rankings. 

 

Fine, here they are...

Note: These are independent from playoff predictions and etc. 


1. Pittsburgh Steelers

2. San Diego Chargers

3. New England Patriots

4. Philadelphia Eagles

5. Atlanta Falcons

6. Indianapolis Colts

7. Baltimore Ravens

8. Tennessee Titans

9. Chicago Bears

10. New York Giants

11. New Orleans Saints

12. Arizona Cardinals

13. Minnesota Vikings

14. Houston Texans

15. Dallas Cowboys

16. Carolina Panthers

17. Green Bay Packers

18. Miami Dolphins

19. Buffalo Bills

20. Washington Redskins

21. Kansas City Chiefs

22. Seattle Seahawks

23. New York Jets

24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

25. Jacksonville Jaguars

26. Denver Broncos

27. Cincinnati Bengals

28. Cleveland Browns

29. San Francisco 49ers

30. Oakland Raiders

31. Detroit Lions 

32. St. Louis Rams

Let the bitching and moaning begin!

Category: NFL
Posted on: September 12, 2009 12:25 am
Edited on: September 12, 2009 12:26 am
 

2009 NFL Preview - Part 2 (NFC)

Continued from part 1.

NFC

NFC East

1. x-Philadelphia Eagles (13-3) - The Eagles turned it on late last year and got all the way to the NFC Championship game. With a healthy McNabb and a very good defense, the Eagles could find themselves back in the same position they were late last season.

 
2. y-New York Giants (10-6) - Did Eli Manning really deserve that huge pay raise? We'll see what happens now when he no longer has a huge target in Burress. The defense isn't the are of concern here, obviously. 


3. Dallas Cowboys (9-7) - After a disappointing season last year, the Cowboys might be heading towards a similar situation come playoff time. Romo no longer has TO lined up outside. Jason Witten will put up some incredible numbers, but can Roy E. Williams start producing again like he did in Detroit a couple of years back?


4. Washington Redskins (7-9) - Haynesworth will be a very good addition to the defense, but is the offense good enough? Jason Campbell's yet to impress anyone.

 
NFC North

1. x-Chicago Bears (11-5) - Jay Cutler's arm will have Bears fans in awe, seriously. The Bears haven't had a QB of this caliber since McMahon and Luckman. If Tommy Harris can play like the old Tommy Harris, this defense will return to its 05-06 dominance, even with a crappy secondary.

 
2. Minnesota Vikings (9-7) - I don't know why Minnesota felt the need to go out and get an aging hill billy to go under center when they could have gotten similar production out of Rosenfels. Favre might end up creating problems within the team and kill it from the inside. Plus, can he stay healthy towards the latter part of the season? This thing might end with Favre ditching the Vikings by the end of the season. 


3. Green Bay Packers (8-8) - The best 6-10 team ever is back to prove that they're much better than 6-10. I don't think the Packers have the best personnel to play the 3-4. Their secondary will have a lot on its hands if the pass rush isn't as strong as expected. However, these guys can score with Rodgers at the wheel. 


4. Detroit Lions (2-14) - The disgrace of the NFL is back. 2 wins seems like a big improvement if you ask me. At least fantasy owners of Calvin Johnson might pay attention to the team this year.

 
NFC South

1. x-Atlanta Falcons (12-4) - Matt Ryan should continue to improve, as with the entire Falcons team. The addition of Tony Gonzalez only adds another target for Ryan to find. Michael Turner should have another good year and the Falcons will be a player in the playoffs.

 
2. y-New Orleans Saints (10-6) - Drew Brees' awesome season last year resulted in the Saints being held out of the playoffs again. The problem's definitely not on the offensive side of the ball. If Bush can be productive and Colston can stay healthy, the Saints offense should make up for their defensive flaws. 


3. Carolina Panthers (9-7) - Another bubble team. Jake Delhomme was downright awful at times last year, especially in the playoffs. I'll be looking to see if DeAngelo Williams can repeat his monster 2008 season. If he has that kind of a season again, you may see the Panthers in the postseason. 


4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-10) - Their collapse at the end of last season (inability to beat the Raiders in week 17) might be the start of a train-wreck 2009. I wonder if Byron Leftwich can still be of any good. Cadillac Williams could end up being a pretty good come back story. 


NFC West

1. x-Arizona Cardinals (10-6) - If both Boldin and Fitzgerald (Madden curse, OH NO!) can avoid injury, they should be good. Beanie Wells will eventually beat out Hightower for the starting RB spot. In order for them to make a Superbowl run again, their defense needs to perform at a very high level. 


2. Seattle Seahawks (6-10) - A healthy and effective Hasselbeck could have the Seahawks back in contention, especially in the NFC West. But at this point, I don't know if he's capable of being a solid QB. 


3. San Francisco 49ers (4-12) - Not even Mike Singletary can turn this ship around if you ask me. Shaun Hill at QB? No thanks. 


4. St. Louis Rams (2-14) - Two 2 win teams in the same year? No way! Marc Bulger has to return to a somewhat decent version of his past self for this team to be effective. A healthy Stephen Jackson ain't bad either. 

Playoff Prediction and Power Rankings in part 3. 

Category: NFL
Tags: NFC, NFL, Preview
 
Posted on: September 12, 2009 12:12 am
Edited on: September 12, 2009 12:57 am
 

2009 NFL Preview - Part 1 (AFC)

Everybody loves power rankings. It's power rankings this, power rankings that. But you're only ranking 32 teams from 1-32. I have a better idea (not really my idea) - how about we actually guess the actual records of those teams and see who wins which division and who comes out on top in the playoffs? Much better...


Note: The NFL is one of the most weirdest leagues in all of sports. ANYTHING can happen throughout the season. I can be totally wrong. But I'll tell you this: I'm quite good in NFL Pools. x-division winner. y-wildcard winner. 

AFC

AFC East

1. x-New England Patriots (12-4) - With a healthy Brady, the Patriots offense should return to its 2007-2008 dominance. However, the defense is no longer as dominant. This could be a problem come playoff time. 


2. Miami Dolphins (8-8) - The Cinderella story of yesteryear looks to repeat its miracle. However, can Chad Pennington stay healthy? Will the defense play like it did last year? Who knows? 


3. Buffalo Bills (7-9) - Did anybody see the Bills not making the playoffs after starting off 5-0? No Lynch for the first 4 games is going to hurt them. If Trent Edwards can get the ball to TO, they should be a bit better, but not by much. 


4. New York Jets (5-11) - I'm not a fan of Mark Sanchez. Depending on a rookie QB to lead a team in the Big Apple can't turn out too well. That said, the Jets defense should be solid and Thomas Jones should continue to put up good numbers.


AFC North

1. x-Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3) - With an injured Polamalu, the Steelers defense becomes a bit weaker. The pass defense might have some trouble for the first couple of weeks, but this is still one of the NFL's top teams no matter what happens. 


2. y-Baltimore Ravens (11-5) - As long as Flacco continues to improve and the defense continues its beastliness, they will make the playoffs once again and be a tough cookie. 


3. Cincinnati Bengals (5-11) - A healthy Carson Palmer could mean the return to being a mediocre to decent team once again. But is anybody really expecting Palmer to stay injury-free? 


4. Cleveland Browns (4-12) - Eric Mangenius is already looking foolish by not even telling his players who their starting QB will be. This could be a long season for Cleveland fans - once again.  


AFC South

1. x-Indianapolis Colts (11-5) - I don't think a new coach should have the Colts going backwards. They have enough talent on offense and just a good enough defense to get by. 


2. y-Tennessee Titans (10-6) - They showed that they don't need Haynesworth to be a great defense this past Thursday. However, I don't know if LenDale White and Chris Johnson can repeat what they did last year. Still a decent team though. 


3. Houston Texans (9-7) - Everybody's favorite darkhorse team has to do one thing this year to succeed - stay healthy. If Schuab can play 14-16 games, Slaton builds on what he did last year, and the receivers stay healthy, this could be an offense to be reckoned with. However, even if they do make the playoffs, can their defense hold up? 


4. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11) - After a very disappointing 2008, the Jaguars don't look too much better this year. If Jones-Drew can have a monster year while having the backfield to himself, it might help. 


AFC West

1. x-San Diego Chargers (12-4) - If Shawne Merriman can escape his off the field troubles, the defense should return to dominant form, making the Chargers an elite team once again. 


2. Kansas City Chiefs (7-9) - Matt Cassel might just be a product of Belichick, but he can still be that decent QB that KC has lacked for the past couple of years. I'm hoping that Larry Johnson can start being the runner he was a couple of years back - I drafted him on a lot of my fantasy teams. 


3. Denver Broncos (6-10) - Josh McDaniels really screwed up. He tried to fix something that wasn't broke, now everything is broken. A bad defense paired up with a very average QB. Not good. 


4. Oakland Raiders (3-13) - I think I might be being too nice. 3 wins for the Raiders seems like too many. But hey, taking Darrius Heyward-Bey really early in the draft should help - right? LOL. 

NFC predictions in Part 2. 

Category: NFL
Tags: AFC, NFL, Preview
 
Posted on: August 9, 2009 9:32 pm
Edited on: August 9, 2009 9:36 pm
 

The Mystery of Alex Rios

Numerous MLB sources have reported tha Alex Rios has been claimed by the Chicago White Sox. Whether or not he gets traded is still a mystery, but we should know as early as Tuesday.

Rios has been a highly touted phenom since his breakout season in 2006, where he posted a clip of .302/.349/.516 while playing stellar defense in right field, shown by his 13.7 UZR/150.

He followed his breakout year in 2007 with a campaign that featured an OPS+ of 122 and a career high 24 home runs with 17 stolen bases.

Rios signed a 7 year $69 million contract extension in 2008, but a staph infection on his leg put him on the DL for a month. Rios did post a respectable 111 OPS+ along with a career high 32 stolen bases along with 11 home runs after the all-star break.

2009 has not been kind to Rios. He's currently hitting .262 with a .328 wOBA and the team seems to be eager to dump his expensive contract.

By looking just at the numbers on the outside, it appears that Rios is regressing at age 28. The question is, how many players start regressing in their prime, especially hitters?

A simple look at his career BABIP should tell you that this year has been a lot of bad luck.

Rios' career BABIP goes this way.

2006: .346
2007: .324
2008: .335
2009: .291

You could say that Rios has been lucky before in his previous seasons. The league average BABIP is around .300. Rios' BABIP was as much as 46 percentage points higher than that. But he's done this over a course of 3 seasons, so he might naturally be a guy who gets his hits to fall.

His LD% is fairly pedestrian, just slightly above league average. In fact, he's more of a ground ball hitter than he is a fly ball hitter.

However, Rios' LD% is 2% lower than his career norm at 18.1%. That's 7.2 less line drives hit by Rios than his career norm. Since Rios hits .726 on line drives, he should have 5.2 more hits than he should right now.

I know you're thinking, only 5 hits, how big of a difference is that?

With the extra 5 hits, Rios would be hitting a much better .273 with a .326 OBP.

Still not even league average, but much better right? There's also many other factors we can incorporate, but I'm not going to do that.

Even with his below average year with the bat and barely average year on defense, Rios is still a productive player. So far, he's contributed 1 more win than the average player this year for Toronto.

In previous seasons, he's contributed as many as 5.5 wins above replacement.

So how valuable would he be to the White Sox?

The answer is - very valuable.

The fact of the matter is, the White Sox haven't had a full-time CF who posted an OPS above .800 since 2004, Aaron Rowand's career year.

Rios will find himself with a lot more home runs at U.S. Cellular Field, which features smaller gaps and fences that are only 330 feet from home plate down the line.

The HR/FB rate of U.S. Cellular Field is around 11%. Rios has averaged an 8.6% at Skydome.

So that's a 2.5% jump in that category, which should result in at least 5 more home runs, if not more.

Rios will most likely play center field with the White Sox and he features a career 12.8 UZR/150 there, although it is only a 100 game sample size.

If Rios can be the hitter he was two years ago, he can easily become a 30/30 man in Chicago while playing a stellar defense. Add in the fact that he will play in a weaker division without the likes of the Yankees and Red Sox 38 times a year and he should play much, much better.

If Kenny Williams can lure in Rios for pretty much nothing while helping Riccardi free a lot of money from his books, it could be a great thing for all three parties.

Rios needs a fresh start, the White Sox need a CF, and the Blue Jays need to dump salary.

Win, win for all.


Posted on: August 2, 2009 9:05 pm
 

Gordon Beckham: 2009 AL Rookie of the Year?

I honestly cannot express how much man-love I have for Gordon Beckham right now (no homo). Just about everything he does on the field looks good.

Even if he screws up on a grounder, it seems okay because he's not really a third baseman. If he strikes out, you will think, "hey, at least he made the pitcher throw 3 pitches."
Basically, he can do no wrong because he does so much right.

Beckham, the #8 overall pick out of the University of Georgia in last year's draft, was not even an official member of the White Sox one year ago to this day. Yet, here he is in Chicago, hitting .311 with an .860 OPS, and 17, yes count 'em, 17 doubles while the White Sox are in the midst of a battle for the AL Central. Talk about being a stud.

His defense might not be sparkling with his -3.4 UZR (which translates to a -7.3 UZR/150), but he is a natural middle infielder, not a corner infielder. It's extremely hard to adjust to a new position that requires much faster reflexes. Thus, his bad defense to this point is excusable. The good thing is that he seems to be improving, at least I think so. But then again, nothing he does looks bad in my eyes.

Possibly the best quality (or intangible) that Beckham has is the way he goes about his business. He looks poised at the plate, he has the mindset of, "I'm better and I'm going to shove this ball up your ass if I have to", he thrives in big situations, and he has a good time while doing all of this. At this point in his career, he probably isn't a leader vocally, but he can sure back up his swagger with his play on the field.

His skillset reminds me a lot of Michael Young and his ability to lead almost reminds me of Derek Jeter. It's very early to put Gordon into the Young and Jeter category right now as both of those guys are accomplished all-stars and Beckham's nothing but a rookie. However, you can't go wrong thinking this guy can be something special. Sooner or later, his doubles will turn into home runs and he'll be considered one of the premiere middle infielders in the league.

In a year where there are very few rookie sensations in the American League, Beckham looks to be one of the front-runners for the award if he continues his fine play. His opponents include guys like Nolan Reimold, David Price, Rick Porcello, Matt Wieters, Brad Bergesen, Jeff Niemann, Ricky Romero, Elvis Andrus, and Andrew Bailey. I might be missing some, but those are some rookies out there who have put up good numbers.

In my opinion, Beckham's main opponents are Andrus, Romero, Porcello, and Niemann. If anything, Andrus will be his biggest competetion since he is an every day player. Niemann, Romero, and Porcello have been decent, but not stellar enough to possibly beat out a position player of Beckham's magnitude.
Posted on: August 1, 2009 4:01 pm
Edited on: August 1, 2009 4:10 pm
 

Peavy Deal Proves that Williams is a Genius

There should be Kenny Williams statues all around the city of Chicago. Just look at what the man's done as the general manager of the White Sox and it's quite obvious that he is an absolute genius.
  • Traded for Bartolo Colon in his prime for prospects that never turned out.
  • Signed Esteban Loaiza, who turned from journeyman to Cy Young award contender.
  • Traded Loaiza for Jose Contreras, who would help the White Sox win a World Series.
  • Traded for Freddy Garcia, won game 4 of the WS and was a very good pitcher for two seasons on the South Side.
  • Built the 2005 team with a lot of guts by trading away Carlos Lee for Scott Podsednik. Also made one of the best signings in White Sox history by inking Jermaine Dye to a three year deal.
  • He built a team that won the WS. I think that alone should be enough to have statues of him in Chicago.
  • Traded for Jim Thome. Although he did give up Aaron Rowand.
  • Turned Brandon McCarthy and Freddy Garcia into John Danks and Gavin Floyd
  • Turned Joe Borchard into Matt Thornton.
  • Carlos Quentin. Enough said.
  • Buying extremely low on Jake Peavy.
Did Williams also have a lot of deals that didn't turn out? Sure. I can think of three just off the top of my head: Billy Koch, David Wells, and Todd Ritchie.

But looking at the list up there and the three deals I just named, I think Kenny has done a lot more right than wrong.

This recent Jake Peavy deal just goes to show you that Kenny Williams has not lost it. He's still a genius. A genius with a lot of balls.

Jake Peavy is one of the premiere pitchers in baseball. He won the 2007 Cy Young without opposition and has posted ERAs in the 2s for the majority of the past 3 years. Granted, he did pitch in the best pitcher's park in baseball.

To trade for a pitcher who is still on the DL is a very big risk. To add onto that, Peavy has a health history that is a little bit shaky. The good thing about his past injuries is that very few were arm related. Lastly, his contract is enormous. He's going to be paid around $75 million over the next 4 years (if his option is picked up in 2013). That's nothing to sneeze at.

There's also a lot of doubt as to how well Peavy will transition into a better league and pitching in a hitter's park. I'll try to address all of these things in this post, as some analysis can show that Peavy is actually a good fit for U.S. Cellular Field. If he wasn't, Williams wouldn't have gone after him.

There's a lot of misconceptions about Jake Peavy. Some of them include: he isn't good enough to pitch in the AL, Petco Park skewed his ERA, he's not healthy, he bends under pressure, U.S. Cellular Field will destroy him, and etc.

First thing's first. Let's talk about his problems with the American League.

A simple look at Peavy's splits in inter-league play should tell you that the AL is not going to ruin him. His career ERA is a low 3.29. In his starts against the AL, he is 8-8 with a 3.29 ERA and a 1.172 WHIP. He also struck out 113 batters in 120 innings during the games against the AL.

You may ask, how does Peavy stack up against the AL in AL stadiums where he would have to face designated hitters?

Surprisingly, he's actually been pretty good in those situations. In 8 starts at AL stadiums, Peavy has pitched 48.2 innings. He's 4-3 with a 2.96 ERA in those starts. It's a small sample size, but it's the only thing we can go off of right now. From this sample size, it appears that pitching against the AL does not phaze Peavy.

Then some may say that Petco Park molded Peavy into the guy he was. His road/home ERA has a full run as a differential.

The simple explanation as to why this is the way it is is quite simple. Pitchers like to pitch in their own home park. Nobody likes to pitch in a hostile environment on the road.

U.S. Cellular Field is known as a launching pad, yet Mark Buehrle's career home ERA is almost half a run better than his road ERA. Need more examples? Gavin Floyd's home ERA at U.S. Cellular Field is more than a run better than his road ERA. Cole Hamles' career home ERA is .4 runs better than his road ERA even though he pitches in a hitter's park.

That just goes to show that the ballpark does not always make the pitcher. Some pitchers just feel more comfortable at home and they pitch better there. From his track record, Peavy seems like one of those guys. I don't expect Peavy to be the same Jake Peavy he was in San Diego. Not even close. But I do expect him to put up a ERA in the mid-3s. I don't see U.S. Cellular Field ruining him.

Another tidbit that shows why Peavy will benefit at the Cell is the fact that he is a strikeout pitcher. He will miss some bats. People profile him as an extreme fly ball pitcher at times. This is not true. In fact, he's fairly average. His career totals show that he allows 42% ground balls, 38% fly balls, 20% line drives. Fairly pedestrian if you ask me. Sure, he's no Derek Lowe, but who said he was?

What's more impressive about Peavy this year is that his FIP (fielder independent pitching ERA) is almost a run lower than his actual ERA at 2.98. Looks like the Padres defense wasn't very good. Too bad it probably won't get any better on the South Side since the White Sox defense also sucks.

There's a misconception that Peavy folds under pressure. Not exactly true. Sure, he didn't pitch very well in the 2007 tie-breaker game and his postseason numbers are horrible, but I think we need to look beyond that a little bit.

According to Baseball-Reference's Leverage stat (shows how much stress is on the pitcher according to certain situations), Peavy's done extremely well in high leverage occurances.

In 827 high leverage PAs, Peavy holds opponents to a .215 batting average and a .599 OPS. He's also gotten 42 double plays in these situations. His .276 BABIP in these situations also suggest that Peavy is getting a little bit lucky, but not by an extreme amount.

The last thing I'll talk about is Peavy's health.

Peavy's delivery is kind of hard to watch. He bends his elbow back to an extreme position before delivering the pitch. This could affect the health of his arm in his 30s. But as of right now, it doesn't seem like a huge concern.

In addition, Peavy's only had one arm related injury and he went on to pitch very well after the injury last season, posting a 2.82 ERA in 115 innings after coming off the DL.

Peavy's current injury is something he injured while running the bases. If it heels correctly, he should be fine. In fact, he even pitched with the injury after he got injured and he didn't do all that bad. 7 innings of 2 run ball against Arizona with 8 Ks. It shouldn't really be something of great concern just yet.

Outside of Peavy himself, some doubters of the trade also thought the White Sox gave up their entire farm system.

NO, THEY DIDN'T!

When you have yourself a rotation of Buehrle, Peavy, Danks, and Floyd until at least 2011, you don't need pitching prospects right away. Besides, the White Sox did not give up Dan Hudson in the deal, who will now assume the role of the best pitching prospect in the organization.

Also, what the White Sox will need a lot of in the next few years is hitting and they did not give up their hitting prospects. Jordan Danks, Dayan Viciedo, and Tyler Flower all stayed put. That's a huge win.

Besides, Poreda, Richard, and Russell were guys who can throw hard with no secondary pitches. If anything, I'll shed a tear over Dexter Carter.

So there you have it. I don't think Peavy will be a world beater with the Sox, but he'll be an ace and head a staff that could be one of the best in the AL for the next 2-3 years. He could even contribute this season if the White Sox stay close enough by September. All in all, this is a huge win for the White Sox organization and Kenny Williams. I have absolutely zero complaints about the deal.

Category: MLB
Posted on: July 30, 2009 1:39 pm
Edited on: July 30, 2009 1:40 pm
 

Cardinals are Officially My #2 Team

My explanation?

1. Lugo/Schumaker 2B
2. DeRosa 3B
3. Pujols 1B
4. Holliday LF
5. Ludwick RF
6. Rasmus CF
7. Molina C
8. Pitcher
9. Ryan SS

In other words, I really like their lineup. Holliday and Pujols are two of my favorite non-White Sox players. Plus the combination of the 2-6 hitters is absolutely dominating. That's 4 guys capable of an .800+ OPS in a row. Definitely impressive.

The top 3 of their rotation is almost lights out. Wainwright is quietly becoming one of the better pitchers in the NL. We've always known what a healthy Chris Carpenter can do. Lastly, Joel Pinero somehow has a sub-3 ERA. Now if only they can get Kyle Lohse and Todd Wellemeyer to pitch better...

Bullpen isn't all that great, but they have a real stopper this year in Franklin.

I don't think this Cards team is the favorite to come out of the NL as their World Series representative, but I fully expect them to make the playoffs.
Category: MLB
Posted on: July 23, 2009 6:49 pm
Edited on: July 23, 2009 6:57 pm
 

A Perfect Game on a Perfect Day

I woke up today with one thought in mind: today might suck.

Why?

Well, first off, the White Sox are horrible on get-away days. The last one resulted in Clayton Richard giving up 6 runs in one inning of work. Of course, there's also that embarrasing 20-1 loss against the Twins.

Then there's the problem of Mark Buehrle not pitching too well in day games compared to his night game performances. The stats show that, as Buehrle is 3-3 with a 4.02 ERA in day games while he is a perfect 7-0 with a 3.02 ERA at night.

Lastly, my mom lied to me and dragged my ass to the mall. I got a couple of shirts and then had to hang around the Sony store for about 2 hours while she went shopping. What pissed me off even more is that I missed some of the Sox game because of it.

Speaking of the Sox game, WOW. My first thoughts about the day were certainly wrong.

What was a really boring and sucky day for me turned into one of the best days of the year.

It all started to take form when Josh Fields, out of all people, belted a grand slam off of Scott Kazmir in the second inning. I was honestly praying that Josh would walk and bring home a run. I got 3 more runs than I asked for.

Luckily, that's all Mark Buerhle would need as he was absolutely brilliant today. And I mean, BRILLIANT.

The sheer probability of him not letting a single man reach base is absolutely impossible and unthinkable.

However, we're going to think about it. Let's take these things into consideration...

1. Mark Buehrle throws 85-89 MPH at most on his fastball. In other words, he's not throwing that much faster than BP.
2. The Rays are one of the best offensive teams in baseballl. They have scored the 3rd most runs in the AL and have a team OPS above .800.
3. Buehrle has one of the worst fielding teams in the AL behind him. Gordon Beckham's UZR is like a -4 and he's been up here for a month and a half. Josh Fields is in no way a good fielder anywhere. Carlos Quentin is literally limping out in left field. Jermaine Dye is one of the worst outfielders in baseball. Scott Podsednik is barely average in CF. Lastly, Ramon Castro has never caught a game pitched by Mark Buehrle.
4. This was done in one of the best hitter's parks in baseball.

Those four things should tell you just how amazing this game was and how brilliant Buehrle was this afternoon.

There were maybe a couple of plays that were even close to hits.

The first one that comes to mind is when Alexei Ramirez made a nice play in the hole to rob Ben Zobrist of maybe a hit.

Then there's the line drive by Pat Burrell down the left field line that was inches away from a fair ball.

Lastly, there was the ball that Gabe Kapler hit that everybody in the world thought was a home run. Everybody but Dewayne Wise that is. The catch by Wise is possibly one of the best of the year given the situation. He literally took the ball out of the first row in left center field, bobbled it, and then caught it with his bare hands as he was coming down. That's a candidate for Web Gem of the year, that's for sure.

With all these things in mind, I can conclude that Mark Buehrle has pitched one of the best games in Major League Baseball history today. It was a perfect game, only the 18th in history, so it already ranks in the top 20 of the best games pitched to begin with. Then there's the fact that he did it against one of the best hitting teams in baseball with a pretty bad defense behind him in an extremely hitter-friendly park. It is absolutely amazing that he accomplished such a feat today.

Enough about the game, let's talk a little bit about Mark Buehrle.

Mark Buehrle is one of the most underrated pitchers in baseball, mostly because a). he pitches for the White Sox b). he doesn't throw hard, and c). He's not very outspoken.

You hear very little from Buehrle. He's the kind of guy you root for. He's loose, he's funny, and he's extremely friendly. Ask any Sox fan about their experiences with Mark and you will hear nothing but positive remarks.

On the field, he's been one of the best pitchers in the past decade, believe it or not.

In the past 9 years, Mark Buehrle has the 6th best ERA+ in all of baseball behind the likes of Roy Halladay, Johan Santana, Roy Oswalt, and Randy Johnson.

He has also pitched 200+ innings in all of those seasons and posted 10+ wins in all of those seasons.

He is a model of consistency that nobody talks about. Maybe once, just once, people will see the guy on SportsCenter and embrace his accomplishments both on and off the field. Maybe he will finally get more national attention. Maybe he might finally finish higher than 5th in Cy Young voting. He may, he may not. But whatever the case might be, Mark Buehrle will be the man of the night.

What is lost in this story is that the White Sox are now tied for first place in the American League Central. What a perfect day it was.

 
 
 
 
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