Written By: Matt Vereb

This article topic was first tipped off by our friends at LoHud

The majority of fans across baseball cry for a salary cap. Many will argue that the Yankees have an unfair advantage over the competition. With the recession and credit bubble bursting, many are left with questions about the future. How can a sports teams spend $200 million on baseball players? It’s simple: Basic Investment Strategy.

Without going into too much detail, the Yankees’ YES Network is worth over $1 billion dollars. The Yankees always have the highest attendance in baseball, roughly 4 million per season. The Yankees made roughly $20 million on 2009 playoff ticket sales alone. That figure alone pays off Mark Teixeira’s 2009 salary. And we won’t even get into merchandise sales, advertising, etc. So you’ve got the Yankees, the investment behemoths, the ‘bad guys of the world’. At the forefront of this group against the Yanks, is Baltimore Ravens’ owner Steve Bischotti.

Bischotti had this to say about those damn Yankees:

“It certainly doesn’t show up in the standings,” Bisciotti said. “If I’m a Yankees fan, I’m upset we’re not winning 130 games with the roster that they have and the money that they pay out. I think it’s a disgrace they only beat the average team by 10 games in the standings with three times the money. I’d fire that GM. You don’t need a GM. All you have to do is buy the last Cy Young Award winner every year.”

Well, if only baseball were that easy, Mr. Bischotti. No one handed the Yankees billions of dollars. The Yankees created their own advantage. Mr. Steinbrenner reinvested his money into the team. The return has been great. The Players’ Association will never allow a salary cap. The Ravens should worry more about their Super Bowl hopes and their middle linebacker, Ray Lewis’s off-field activities.

Written By: Matt Vereb

Bank of America has been running this credit card promotion for the last few years. Fans, doctors, lawyers, really anyone can apply for a Bank of American credit card featuring their favorite team. These credit cards offer reward points that fans can use towards purchases of their favorite team apparel. Trendy logos will appear on your credit cards; making it much more appealing to the owner.

In general, credits cards can be a little intimidating. Building your credit isn’t the easily thing to do. A lot of Americans have bad credit and may resort to free credit reports. However, sport fans can relish in this Bank of America credit card promotion. Bank of America may even send you a free t-shirt of your favorite team. I suggest enrolling for one of these cards today.

Written By: Mike Ulatoski

Olli Jokinen’s first game-winner with the New York Rangers gave them a 3-2 overtime victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night.

Playing in his fifth game with New York since being acquired in a four-player trade from Calgary, Jokinen took a pass from Michal Rozsival, skated down the right wing and fired a wrist shot through defenseman Kris Letang’s legs and over goalie Marc-Andre Fleury’s stick-side shoulder.  It was Jokinen’s second goal with the Rangers and 13th overall this season.

“I think he’s been playing okay for us but … okay isn’t good enough because we’re not winning,” said Rangers coach John Tortorella, whose team had lost eight of 10 coming in. “So it’s a big play by him… Hopefully it will give him some confidence. You always want to be accepted when you come to a new group, and when you score an overtime game winner that’s a big avenue for him as far as joining in with the team.”

New York’s victory marks the first time the Rangers have won in Pittsburgh in their last eight trips, and their first win against the Penguins in their last eight meetings overall.  With the win the Rangers moved to within two points of the Eastern Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot.

The Penguins’ Sidney Crosby scored twice to achieve a career-high 41 goals.  He trails Washington’s Alex Ovechkin by a goal for the NHL lead.  It is Crosby’s first 40-goal season in the NHL, and I bet he’ll get to 50 by the end of the season.

With the OT loss, Pittsburgh gained a point but fell two points behind first-place New Jersey, who won Friday night, in the Atlantic Division.

New York played most of the game with only 16 skaters after defenseman Michael Del Zotto sustained “a significant laceration” in a collision with Penguins star Evgeni Malkin and had the side of his abdomen land on Malkin’s skate.

Rangers star Marian Gaborik dressed and had 4:02 of ice time over six shifts during the first period after being a game-time decision. He missed a home game Wednesday night against Nashville after cutting his right thigh during a collision with goalie Henrik Lundqvist in practice a day before.

Brandon Dubinsky tied it 1:28 into the second period (I called that) when he one-timed a blind backhand pass from Chris Drury.  Drury was behind the net and found Dubinsky in the left slot.  The goal was Dubinsky’s 13th of the season, just his second since January 1.  It also was Drury’s first assist since January 17.

Vaclav Prospal gave New York the lead 8:16 later with his 13th goal of the season, and fourth in his past four games.

Penguins’ goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury stopped the first 17 shots he faced in relief of backup Brent Johnson, who left the game with 3:55 to play in the second period due to a lower-body injury.
The stage was set for yet another New York Ranger meltdown against the Penguins. They had a lead going into the third, they blew the lead to a Sidney Crosby goal, and it seemed like they were going to add another tally to the loss column.  But Olli Jokinen (who said he was going to have a great game) skated down the ice, rifled a shot and lit the lamp in overtime.

While this is a big win, it’s the first step of a long journey if the Rangers expect to make the playoffs.  The Blueshirts next game is this Sunday against Tampa Bay, the last game before their Olympic break begins.

The Rangers lost another player to a cut from a skate on Friday.  Rookie defenseman Michael Del Zotto collided with Penguins center Evgeni Malkin near the boards and fell on Malkin’s skate with the side of his abdomen. He sustained what team officials termed “a significant laceration” and will also not return.

“The playoffs have already started for us; we have to start winning,” Lundqvist said. “A big part of the game is to be focused. Whatever happens during the game, you can’t let that affect us — if it’s a goal or a guy can’t play for us, all the guys have to step up even more. We did that tonight.”

Written By: Adam Poedubicky

The improbable run the New York Jets made to the AFC Championship was a thrill ride for all kinds of fans: the Colts were for those who loved great passing and a balanced attack and the Jets played it old school, running more than passing and playing sound defense. Ultimately, the Colts went on to beat the Jets to make it to the Super Bowl.

You can’t chalk up a total loss in the AFC Championship to Peyton Manning and the Colts. However, as a lover of old school “three yards and a cloud of dust” football, it was frustrating to see Manning effortlessly pick apart the Jets’ #1 ranked defense. Heck, not only was it the #1 ranked defense, it was the #1 ranked passing defense, led by Defensive Player of the Year runner-up, Darrelle Revis, who had 6 interceptions on the season and was well-known for completing shutting down whatever receiver he decided to cover for the day. In the AFC Championship, he held All-Pro wide receiver Reggie Wayne to 3 catches for 55 yards.

To stop the Colts, shutting down the #1 option in Reggie Wayne is a good first step. However, second-year player Pierre Garcon (from Division III Mount Union) posted career numbers, having 11 catches, 151 yards, and a touchdown. Also, BYU rookie Austin Collie added 7 catches, 123 yards, and a TD of his own.

Granted, these guys had Peyton Manning throwing them the rock. The Colts’ offensive line, as it has all year, made sure Peyton had a generous amount of time in the pocket. But these receivers were not even supposed to be starters until rookie Anthony Gonzalez went down with a knee injury. If Lito Sheppard, Dwight Lowery, and Donald Strickland can’t stop two rookies from running in circles around them, whom exactly do they plan on stopping?

Go back to the Week 6 loss to Buffalo, who was then 1-4. “Revis Island” shut down Terrell Owens, holding him to 3 catches for 13 yards. On the other side? The unexciting but reliable Lee Evans catches a 37 yard touchdown, running right past Dwight Lowery. In a Week 11 loss to the Patriots, Revis held Randy Moss to 5 catches, 34 yards, and a touchdown. These are good numbers, but certainly not Randy-Moss-like numbers. On the other side? Wes Welker hauls in 15 catches for 192 yards, both career highs.

The way things looks right now, all roads that lead to the Super Bowl will feature a vaunted passing attack, whether it’s the Colts, Patriots, or Chargers. The Jets have a great foundation build for their defense. However, they cannot expect to beat any of the teams just mentioned with the depreciating Lito Sheppard expected to cover Pierre Garcon, Wes Welker, or Malcolm Floyd. The Jets got hot when it mattered last year, but don’t forget that it took a Raiders’ win over the Broncos to seal their playoff birth.

A solution? Spending, at lowest, a second round draft pick on a corner will help. Although the experts love Golden Tate going to the Jets at 29, a fresh corner to play opposite Darrelle Revis for the next decade will prove to pay more dividends than drafting a Leon Washington/Jericho Cotchery hybrid in Tate. By drafting a new corner, the Jets won’t have to bother relying on the Raiders to pull out an elusive win to make it into the playoffs: they can do it on their own.

Written By: Mike Ulatoski

The San Jose Sharks have traded enforcer Jody Shelley to the New York Rangers in exchange for a draft pick.

The 34-year-old Shelley racked up 78 penalty minutes in 36 games for the Sharks this season, while adding three assists. In 517 NHL games, Shelley has 43 points and 1310 penalty minutes.

The Rangers just waived enforcer Donald Brashear and wasted no time in filling that need.  However, New York has another enforcer in Aaron Voros already, plus Brandon Prust who came over with Olli Jokinen; I don’t see why the Rangers would dress three every night.  Glen Sather continues to attempt to improve the overall toughness of this team.  With just 22 games remaining, it is too late for that.  Grit and toughness is more of a necessity on defense more than it is at forward.  Maybe Sather has a trade in the works for after the Olympics that involves Voros.  Other than that, I don’t think it makes much sense in terms of the direction this team should be going in.  More scoring.  Not more fights.

Written By: Matt Vereb

Tonight at roughly 9:30PM Eastern, the 2010 Slam Dunk Contest will kick off. This year, the dunk contest features four younger player who are all looking to make a name for themselves. Incumbent Dunk Contest Champion, Nate Robinson of the New York Knicks, will look to win his 3rd Dunk Contest. No player in NBA history has ever won three Dunk Contests.

Let’s break down the contestants:

Contestants:

1. DeMar DeRozan, SF, Toronto Raptors

DeMar earned his way into the Dunk Contest in a ‘Dunk-In’ against the Clippers, Eric Gordon. DeRozan and Gordon competed in a two dunk specialty round at halftime of the Rookies-Sophomores game last night. Fans decided which player would be in the dunk contest through ‘text messaging'; a concept that the NBA has used in past Dunk Contests. DeRozan earned 61% of the fans’ vote and will compete tonight. This is his 1st Career Dunk Contest.

2. Gerald Wallace, SF, Charlotte Bobcats

The emotional leader of the Bobcats. Wallace puts on a nightly show for fans who come to Bobcat games. Nicknamed “Crash”, Wallace just hopes not to get injured tonight during the Dunk Contest. This is Wallace’s 2nd career Dunk Contest

3. Shannon Brown, SF, Los Angeles Lakers

Brown is known for his Earth-shattering dunks. Brown is considered the heavy favorite by Las Vegas. Brown has performed some jaw-dropping, rim shaking dunks at times for the Lakers. Kobe Bryant has been shown going crazy on numerous occasions after Brown dunks. This is Brown’s 1st career Dunk Contest.

4. Nate Robinson, G, New York Knicks

“Kryp-to-Nate” is a two-time defending Dunk Contest Champion. He is best known for defeating Dwight Howard in last year’s competition. However, a 3rd title may be hard to come by for Robinson. Nate is currently battling a groin injury and there was speculation he may forgo the contest. But Nate will compete tonight.

Where is LeBron James?

Many have compared James to Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan competed for years in the Dunk Contest. Fans loved seeing epic Jordan/Erving Dunk Contest matchups. LeBron James has never competed in a contest. LeBron is arguably the league’s best dunker and the fans want him in. After the 2009 Dunk Contest, James told the media he wanted to preliminary put his name in for the 2010 Contest. There’s no LeBron. Maybe LeBron is waiting to sign a new deal before competing? We can only hope.

Prediction: Shannon Brown wins the contest easily. Nate is hurt. Gerald will probably play it safe. DeMar just isn’t a good dunker.

Who do you think wins?

Written By: Matt Vereb

USA Today released its annual scouting report, profiling the top  100 MLB prospects going into the 2010 season.

Here’s my breakdown and analysis on the list:

Immediate Impact: #1 Neftali Feliz, SP, Rangers

Feliz was one prospect acquired in trade from Atlanta in 2007 in exchange for Mark Teixeira. In 30 innings with the Rangers last season, Feliz recorded 39 K’s, 1.74 ERA, allowing 13 hits, and 6 runs. Perez features a 95+ MPH fastball with a devastating slider. Scout have compared Perez to New York Mets closer, Francisco Rodriguez. Feliz is expected to compete for a rotation spot in Spring Training. In time, I expect Feliz to pitch out of the bullpen for Texas. He has that ‘wow’ factor that few 21-year-old prospects have. Look for him early in the 2010 season. Feliz is my Rookie of the Year pick. (I predicted Evan Longoria in 2007).

Most Intriguing Prospects: #11 Jon Niese, P, New York Mets; #17 Buster Posey, C, San Francisco Giants; #31 Steven Strasburg, SP, Washington Nationals; #36 Aroldis Chapman, SP, Cincinnati Reds

Niese is the only prospect of the group that will be expected to perform immediately at the big league level. Niese threw 25 innings for the Mets last season recording 18 K’s. Posey, the top catching prospect in baseball, will be expected to back up Bengie Molina in San Francisco. If he has a good spring, Posey could start for the Giants. Strasburg and Chapman have plus fastballs, but must learn how to pitch to Major League hitters. Expect both pitchers to find their way to the Majors before the end of the season.

Most Over-Hyped Prospect: #40 Michael Bowden, SP, Boston Red Sox

Bowden has to be one of the most over-hyped prospects on the list. Bowden has a 3.15 ERA in Single and Double A ball. Bowden was knocked around in his 2009 Major League appearances. In 8 games with the Red Sox, Bowden had a 9.56 ERA, yielding 23 hits in 16 innings. Yankee fans can remember knocking Bowden around in his only appearance against the team last season. I’m not writing Bowden off due to his small big-league sample size, but he’s not the 40th best prospect in the game.

Who New York Wants to See: #66 Jesus Montero, C, Yankees

Montero, 20, has received a ton of hype throughout the Yankee organization. Many drool over Montero’s bat. Montero has smashed 17 Home Runs in each of the past two seasons in the minor leagues(A+AA). The Yankees even offered Montero straight up for pitcher, Roy Halladay. Many wonder whether Montero’s defense is good enough to become the Yankees full-time catcher in the coming years. Montero may get some Major League at-bats this season, barring injury. Jorge Posada is 38-years-old, so anything can happen. I want to see Jesus Montero in pinstripes this season.

Written By: Matt Vereb

Ex-Met First Baseman Carlos Delgado will not be signing any offers anytime soon. However, Delgado wants to play this season. Delgado is only 27 home runs away from the magical 500 HR total**. Delgado has never played in a World Series during his 18 year career.  Maybe he’ll sign by midseason? Delgado,37, seems to be heading down the same route that Roger Clemens(Yankees) and  Pedro Martinez(Phillies) did in past seasons. Both players signed with potential World Series teams during mid-season. Delgado played just 26 games last season for the Mets before having surgery.

The Mets and Marlins have been recently linked to Delgado. After the Mets signed Mike Jacobs(reported earlier today by Kenny Mauss), is there really a need for Delgado?

During a December interview with New York radio personality, Mike Francessa, Jose Reyes told New York that Delgado was the leader during his Met tenure and Delgado is still the leader. For what it’s worth, Reyes seemed truthful with that statement. Maybe Delgado is waiting to see if the Mets are a contender before returning?

Realisticall, Delgado’s best bet would be to DH for an American League team. Delgado has a career -3.8 UZR(Universal Zone Rating); meaning that he is somewhat of a liability defensively.

What do you think, New York? Do you want Delgado back or do you want to see Murphy(+5.4 UZR) or Jacobs(-6.1 UZR) play 1st base? Jacobs may offer more offense than Murphy but there is a distinct defensive difference.

**Every player that has hit 500 home runs has made the Hall of Fame.

Written By: Matt Vereb

The 2010 MLB Fantasy baseball season is quickly approaching. Avid fantasy fans are quickly preparing their rankings and weighing their options for draft day. The majority of publications have Cardinals First Baseman, Albert Pujols and Florida Marlins Shortshop, Hanley Ramirez interchangable as the top 2 draft picks. So where do Yankee sluggers Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira fit in on draft day?

Alex Rodriguez missed the first 29 games of the 2009 season. A-Rod also dealt with steroid admission which caused some distractions during Spring Training. Given the circumstances and games played(124), A-Rod had a productive year of 30 Home Runs, 100 RBIs, and .286 Batting Average. This marked the 12th time in his career that A-Rod has achieved 30 HRs and 100 RBIs. Given the friendly confines of Yankee Stadium and the offensive additions of Nick Johnson and Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez should far surpass his 2009 numbers. A-Rod’s hip is 100% so Yankee fans and fantasy owners can breathe a sigh of relief.

Projection: 115 R, 40 HRs, 123 RBIs, 17 SBs, .310 Batting Avg.

Draft Selection: 3rd overall; I’d draft Alex Rodriguez over Ryan Braun and Chase Utley, solely based on the fact that A-Rod will outproduce these players. One could make a strong case for Utley given his lineup protection and position scarcity, but Alex should outpace him in all categories.

Mark Teixeira had a slow start when he first joined the Yankees. Teixeira hit .194 during April before Rodriguez returned. After A-Rod returned, Teixeira caught fire and ended up leading the AL in Home Runs(39) and RBIs(125). The switch-hitting Teixeira plays in cozy Yankee stadium(24 of 39 HRs came at home). With Rodriguez offering the best protection in the game for a full season, Mark should see great pitches to hit and at least match his 2009 numbers.

Projection: 105 R, 38 HRs, 125 RBI, 1 SB, .295 Batting Avg

Draft Selection: Late 1st Round; Teixeira will be drafted after Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder at First Base. But Teixeira production and support in the Yankee lineup is the best in the game. I would draft Teix over David Wright of the Mets, Evan Longoria of the Rays, and Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers.

Written By: Matt Vereb

The 2010 Hall of Fame class will be annoucned on April 5th. However, the speculation for this year’s class is at an all-time high. All-time greats, Karl Malone and Scottie Pippen are among those selected as finalists for the Hall of Fame. The 1992 Dream Team is also up for induction as a team. The 1992 Dream Team is considered by many to be the great basketball team ever ensembled. Members included Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Pippen, and Malone. During the 1992 Olympics, the Dream Team had an average margin of victory of 43.8 points per game. Pippen, a six-time NBA champion and seven-time all-star, was Jordan’s sidekick on all Chicago Bulls champinship squads. Karl Malone, a two-time MVP, never won an NBA championship, but is the 2nd leading scorer all-time with 36,928 points.

Other HOF finalists include Chris Mullin, Don Nelson, and WNBA great, Cynthia Cooper.

Who had a better career? Pippen or Malone?