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Monday, March 26, 2012

Mega Baseball Prediction Post

We here at The Cover 3 do not believe in predictions of any kind. They are worthless. None of us actually know what we're talking about and everyone who predicts will be grossly incorrect at the end.

But that being said, it sure is fun to write and read about predictions, right?


1) Boston Red Sox
2) New York Yankees*
3) Tampa Bay Rays
4) Toronto Blue Jays
5) Baltimore Orioles


1) Minnesota Twins
2) Detroit Tigers
3) Kansas City Royals
4) Chicago White Sox
5) Cleveland Indians


1) Los Angeles Angels
2) Texas Rangers
3) Oakland A's
4) Seattle Mariners


1) Philadelphia Phillies
2) Miami Marlins*
3) Washington Nationals
4) Atlanta Braves
5) New York Mets


1) Milwaukee Brewers
2) Cincinnati Reds
3) St. Louis Cardinals
4) Chicago Cubs
5) Pittsburgh Pirates
6) Houston Astros


1) San Francisco Giants
2) Arizona Diamondbacks
3) San Diego Padres
4) Los Angeles Dodgers
5) Colorado Rockies

*Denotes Wild Card Birth


WINNER: Adrian Gonzalez (BOS)
RUNNER UP: Miguel Cabrera (DET)


WINNER: Joey Votto (CIN)
RUNNER UP: Justin Upton (ARI)
DARK HORSE: Hunter Pence (PHI)


WINNER: Jared Weaver (LAA)
RUNNER UP: C.C. Sabathia (NYY)
DARK HORSE: Jon Lester (BOS)


WINNER: Zack Grienke (MIL)
RUNNER UP: Roy Halladay (PHI)
DARK HORSE: Madison Bumgarner (SF)


WINNER: Brett Lowrie (TOR)
RUNNER UP: Mike Trout (LAA)
WILD CARD: Jesus Montero (SEA)


WINNER: Julio Teheran (ATL)
RUNNER UP: Shelby Miller (STL)
WILD CARD: Devin Mesoraco (CIN)

WINNER: Desmond Jennings (TB)
RUNNER UP: Eric Hosmer (KC)
WILD CARD: Jeremy Hellickson (TB)

WINNER: Craig Kimbrel (ATL)
RUNNER UP: Dee Gordon (LAD)
WILD CARD: Vance Worley (PHI)

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Grades For NFL Offseason Moves


Former Team: Indianapolis Colts
New Team: Denver Broncos
Grade: B

Peyton Manning can do what we wants. He has 4 MVP's, he has won a Super Bowl, and he's going to go down as one of, if not THE greatest quarterback of all time (I personally put him second behind Dan Marino). It seems painfully obvious that Peyton Manning went with his gut because at this point in his career he can and did choose Denver. While Denver plays in a terrible division, has some good young receivers in Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas and a decent defense led by Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil and coached by Jack Del Rio, Denver does not give Peyton the best place to win more Superbowls than his brother.

The San Francisco 49ers were the best place for him to go with one of the best defenses in the game, a great offensive head coach, a great running game, and wide receiver core that now consists of Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham, and Randy Moss. The Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals were both better places that Denver.


Former Team: San Diego Chargers
New Team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Grade: A-

I still believe in the young Tampa Bay offense. I still believe in both Josh Freeman and Mike Williams who are both extremely young and developing players. Vincent Jackson is an elite and truly number one wide receiver and he will help move everyone down to their rightful place to make Williams the #2 and Regis Benn the #3 wide outs. Like with most new wide out/quarterback duos there will be some growing pains and big name wide outs will not earn immediate early returns but I expect that at the end of Jackson's five year contract Freeman to Jackson is a phrase you will hear early and often.


Former Team: Miami Dolphins
New Team: Chicago Bears
Grade: A+

Sure, call me biased but I freaking love Brandon Marshall on the Bears paired up with Jay Cutler again. Not only did the Bears desperately need a legitimate #1 receiver but Marshall and Cutler have the essential ingredient needed to make this trade amazing: chemistry. I expect major growing pains with Josh Freeman and Vincent Jackson but not with Brandon Marshall and Jay Cutler. While I do not expect the dynamic duo I saw in a Josh McDaniels led offense, I do expect great things to come. Brandon Marshall is only 27 years old (compared to VJax who is 29) and already a stud who can run down field with great hands. Plus, it cost the Bears very little to acquire Marshall- only two 3rd round draft picks.


Former Team: Houston Texans
New Team: Buffalo Bills
Grade: C+

I am a huge Mario Williams fan and when healthy he is a top five pass rusher as both a linebacker and a defensive end. But that is the big caveat: when healthy. He's only played 18 games the past two seasons. The Bills needed to do something to show that they are serious contenders and Mario Williams will help attract free agents like what the Washington Nationals did with Jayson Werth last season in baseball, but right now, the move looks like a move just to make a move and that team still has a lot of obstacles ahead of them if they even want that defense to be good.


Former Team: Indianapolis Colts
New Team: Washington Redskins
Grade: F

Vincent Jackson's contract: 5 years/ 55.55 millions dollars. Pierre Garcon's contract: 5 years/ 42.5 million dollars. Pierre Garcon is an average wide receiver who has known to have brick hands. He's basically a rich man's Roy Williams (or maybe he just is Roy Williams). He got way too much money for way too long of time. From Pierre Garcon's perspective he gets an A for commanding that much money with that little talent but it's a horrible move for the Redskins. I understand they want to get RGIII some wide outs to throw to but this is ridiculous.


Former Team: Green Bay Packers
New Team: Seattle Seahawks
Grade: A-

Yet another back up quarterback of a legend in Green Bay goes to Seattle to become the starter. First Matt Hasselbeck and now Matt Flynn. Seattle has some great offensive pieces in place. Three of their five offensive lineman were drafted in the last two years and are either first or second round draft picks, they have Beast Mode Marshawn Lynch at running back, a decent pass catching tight end in Zach Miller and will hopefully get wide receiver Sidney Rice back soon. While I am not completely convinced Flynn is not a product of the Green Bay system, in one game started in 2011 he threw more touchdown passes than: Vince Young, TJ Yates, Caleb Hanie, and Donovan McNabb. Considering the Seahawks were never going to get Andrew Luck or RGIII and their starting quarterback is Tarvaris Jackson- a low end #2 QB in the league at best, Seattle needed to get Flynn.

NOTE: Poor Miami. They hired Joe Philbin- who's former job was the offensive coordinator of the Green Bay Packers- and they tried to go out and get the Packers back up QB and lose out. Wah Wah. Sad Trombone.


Former Team: St. Louis Rams
New Team: New England Patriots
Grade: A+

I guess I just love Brandon's today. Lloyd is a legitimate #1 in a Josh McDaniels led offense and he now has Tom Brady throwing to him. Lloyd might return to being the best wide out in fantasy again.


Former Team: Indianapolis Colts
New Team: Indianapolis Colts
Grade: C-

The Colts should have traded Wayne last year for draft picks in order to help rebuild. Although I do think Wayne still has plenty of left in the tank and it would not shock me if Wayne next year turns out to be like Steve Smith of the Carolina Panthers last year- to have a #1 overall pick/quarterback throwing to them to rejuvenate their careers. However, I think the Colts and Wayne should have just moved on to help the rebuilding process.


Former Team: Denver Broncos
New Team: New York Jets
Grade: D

Now the Jets have two bad quarterbacks. The best move for Tebow was Jacksonville.


Former Team: Oakland Raiders
New Team: Chicago Bears
Grade: B+

For Bush's standpoint this move seems horrible (for at minimum one year) because instead of being a starter (like he deserves and he's proven to be) he's now on the wrong end of a Running Back By Committee time share. From the Bears perspective they now have a two top 12 running backs (probably, not going to count out exactly though). This move (rightfully) pissed Matt Forte off to no end and it's never good to have your franchised player disgruntled but as a Bears fan, and this pains me to say, I would rather have a 27 year old Michael Bush for four years than a 26 year old Matt Forte.


Former Team: Detroit Lions
New Team: Detroit Lions
Grade: B+

It's hard to say it's the best move in the world resigning Megatron to a 7 year/ $132 million extension- which takes up a shit ton of cap room but he's the best wide out in the game right now and the Lions don't have an offense without him.


Former Team: New Orleans Saints
New Team: New Orleans Saints
Grade: B

Colston was only a 7th round draft pick and has been streaky in seasons throughout his career. I think he's essential to that Sean Peyton offensive system in New Orleans but I don't think he would have been worth his contract if he went anywhere else.


Former Team: Kansas City Chiefs
New Team: Dallas Cowboys
Grade: A-

I still believe Orton can start for many teams (I'm looking at you Cleveland and Jacksonville) and I don't believe he's a back up but he'll be really good when (not if) Tony Romo gets injured.


Former Team: Oakland Raiders
New Team: Chicago Bears
Grade: A-

I don't like that he's the highest paid back up QB in the league but the Bears have the cap room to support it and I still believe Campbell has the skills to be a starter in this league. The Bears need insurance if Cutler goes down again seeing at what a horrible disappointment the Caleb Hanie Experiment was in 2011 the Bears need Campbell.


Former Team: Cleveland Browns
New Team: Kansas City Chiefs
Grade: A-

Jamaal Charles is coming off major surgery and we saw how effective Charles and Thomas Jones were two years ago. Hillis is now playing the TJ role and I think he'll revert back to 2010 form.


Former Team: New York Giants
New Team: San Francisco 49ers
Grade: A

Manningham has great hands and is a damn fine route runner. He will work great on any team and will work great in Jim Harbaugh's system. I think Manningham would have gotten an "A" grade wherever he went because I think his skill set can complement any system.


Former Team: New Orleans Saints
New Team: San Diego Chargers
Grade: B

If I were the Chargers I would have paid out the big bucks for Vincent Jackson yet Philip Rivers had his best season in 2010 when Jackson missed the vast majority of the year and when Rivers was throwing to scrubs so I'm kind of conflicted. Meachum feels more like a product if that great Sean Peyton system yet maybe he's just the complementary piece San Diego needs.


- BenJavis Green-Ellis (RB) (Patriots to Bengals). Grade: B+
- Mike Tolbert (RB) (Chargers to Panthers). Grade: C-
- Courtland Finnegan (DB) (Titans to Rams). Grade: B+
- David Garrard (QB) (FA to Dolphins). Grade: B.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Best Television Series Of The 2010's

Again, this will be a reoccurring segment on The Cover 3 and a list that will be added to and changed as we move further towards 2020.

1) Breaking Bad (AMC)
(created by Vince Gilligan)

2) Terriers (FX)
(Created by Ted Griffin)

3) Mad Men (AMC)

(Created by Matthew Weiner)

4) Breaking Bad (AMC)

(Created by Vince Gilligan)

5) Justified (FX)

(Created By Graham Yost)

6) Parks And Recreation (NBC)

(Created by Greg Daniels and Michael Schur)

7) Modern Family (ABC)

(Created by Steve Levitan and Christopher Lloyd)

8) It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia (FX)

(Created by Rob McElhenney)

9) Entourage (HBO)

(Created by Doug Ellin)

10) Community (NBC)

(Created by Dan Harmon)

11) The Office (NBC)

(Developed by Greg Daniels)

12) 30 Rock (NBC)

(Created by Tina Fey)

13) Lights Out (FX)

(Created by Justin Zackham)

14) Archer (FX)

(Created by Adam Reed)

15) Glee (FOX)

(Created by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan)


That I Have Seen
- How I Met Your Mother (CBS)
- New Girl (FOX)
- Wilfred (FX)
- White Collar (USA)
- Suits (USA)
- Fairly Legal (USA)
- The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
- Louie (FX) Season 1

That I Have Not Seen But Plan To See
- Homeland (SHO)
- Mike And Molly (CBS)

That I Have Not Seen And Do Not Plan To See
- Treme (HBO)
- Game Of Thrones (HBO)
- Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
- Shameless (SHO)
- Sparticus (STARZ)
- The Walking Dead (AMC)
- Friday Night Lights (NBC)
- Louie (FX) Season 2

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Monday, March 19, 2012

The Greatest Songs of The 2000's

Click here to view The Cover 3's best singles of the 2010's

Recently, Vh1 did a special on the 100 Greatest Songs of the 2000. And it was god awful. Not only was the host- Fall Out Boy's Pete Wendt- so boring, and dull, and lifeless, and Al Gore-esque but holy crap did Vh1 really miss the mark. I'm not going to rank 100 songs but I will correct the top 20.

1) Hey Ya (2003)
Artist: Outkast

2) Hurt (2002)
Artist: Johnny Cash

3) Seven Nation Army (2003)
Artist: The White Stripes

4) Crazy (2006)
Artist: Gnarls Barkley

5) Gold Digger (2005)
Arist: Kanye West f/ Jamie Foxx

6) 99 Problems (2004)
Artist: Jay-Z

7) SexyBack (2006)
Artist: Justin Timberlake

8) Float On (2004)
Artist: Modest Mouse

9) Rehab (2007)
Artist: Amy Winehouse

10) Lose Yourself (2002)
Artist: Eminem

11) Take Me Out (2004)
Artist: Franz Ferdinand

12) Mr. Brightside (2004)
Artist: The Killers

13) Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) (2008)
Artist: Beyonce

14) Californication (2000)
Artist: Red Hot Chili Peppers

15) I Believe In A Thing Called Love (2003)
Artist: The Darkness

16) Yeah! (2004)
Artist: Usher f/ Lil' John and Ludacris

17) Clocks (2002)
Artist: Coldplay

18) Drop It Like It's Hot (2004)
Artist: Snoop Dogg f/ Pharrell

19) Are Your Gonna Be My Girl (2003)
Artist: Jet

20) Stacy's Mom (2003)
Artist: Fountains of Wayne


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Sunday, March 18, 2012

My Mount Rushmore Of Television Shows

What are the four greatest seasons television programs according to me? Well I'm glad you asked.

(created by Matthew Weiner)

The first season of Mad Men is like George Washington. I got into the show very early on (admittedly my mother watched the pilot episode when it originally aired, told me about it a few episodes in, I stared to get hooked, and then I realized the critics were loving it as well) and Mad Men was one of the first real dramas I watched. I know the show is very young (and due to the advent of DVD players and the internet I have been able to watch other great and classic TV shows) but Mad Man is one of my first.

What makes the first season of Mad Men so great is that you get the full complexity of Don Draper throughout the entire season. The show introduces the mystery about Dick Wittman and then actually addresses and answers it by the seasons end. Normally with a secret as deep as Dick Wittman, shows will let it linger for three or so seasons before really releasing it. Not Mad Men. The end felt so fulfilling and exhilarating (probably because show creator Matthew Weiner didn't know if he would be able to make more seasons) that the season felt complete and was great.

The reason why I think Season One is the best is because the show lets Don Draper be Don Draper. The guy's a dick and a philanderer but he's so smooth and charming and just everything you want to be as a man. Yet there's a sad and troubled undertone to him. As the show progresses- I don't want to say a different Don Draper because "different" has a false connotation that I do not wish to use- you see a more evolved Don Draper. I like the "new" Don Draper and Season Four- which shows a completely different Don than the first three seasons- is my second favorite season of Mad Men but the character that I saw Jon Hamm play in the shows first season will always be my favorite and what makes the first season of Mad Men so great.

Breaking Bad (AMC)- SEASON THREE
(created by Vince Gilligan)

Breaking Bad is like Abraham Lincoln. I just saw the show within the past four weeks (like how Lincoln came later than some other presidents on the monument) and it was amazing. Season 3 of Breaking Bad is probably my favorite single season of television ever (just like many consider Lincoln to be the greatest president ever).

Choosing my favorite season of Breaking Bad was tough. Season One is out because it was only seven episodes and we really just see the beginning of Walter White (Gilligan said he wanted to turn Mr. Chips into Scarface). Well we really don't see a whole lot of Scarface in Season 1. Season Two is out because the beginning of the season was so tough and so hard for me to get through that I almost stopped watching the series. While the end of Season Two is amazing, I have to judge seasons in their entirety. Plus, the mystery of the flashforward and the burning purple doll in the pool and such was a left turn and a bold and daring choice by Gilligan and crew but the reveal was ultimately kind of upsetting.

Therefore it came down to (obviously) Seasons 3 and 4 and what it really came down to was Jesse Pinkman. The first half of Pinkman in Season 4 was not that fun to watch. I understand why the show took the character there (they had to after what Jesse did in the finale of Season 3) but I have to judge seasons as a whole and I enjoyed Jesse throughout ALL of Season 3 versus only part of him in Season 4.

Season Three of Breaking Bad follows former Chemistry genius-turned high school Chemistry teacher-turned meth cook Walter White and his former student-turned dropout-turned meth dealer protoge Jesse Pinkman. While Walter White cooks the best meth in all of the Southwest he and Jesse have problems finding a distributor. The two man cook team struggled to find one throughout the first two seasons but their search to find one in Season Three is the most entertaining.

Season Three also introduced the duo's lawyer Saul Goodman (played by the comic great Bob Odenkirk). Saul is meant to add comic levity and it is much needed to help ease the tension for the rest of the show. Part of the problem with Season Two was that it was TOO tense and hard for me to watch but Saul Goodman helped change that. Saul also helps Walter and Jesse navigate through uncharted waters of the meth game which turned into a nice change of pace from the other three seasons.

(created by David Simon)

The first season of The Wire is like Thomas Jefferson, it's the show I saw in between Mad Men (George Washington) and Breaking Bad (Abraham Lincoln) and while it's great (like Jefferson) it's also not the first season that comes to mind when asked "What's your favorite television series?" (like Jefferson- although substitute "television series" with "President")

Most people consider Season Four of The Wire not only The Wire's greatest season but one of the greatest seasons ever but I disagree with them. The reason is because I get invested in characters and while many consider Omar the best character on The Wire, my personal favorite has always been Avon's #2 man Stringer Bell.

The Wire follows around the city of Baltimore. Season One focuses on the gangs of Balitmore and the cops trying to catch the big men in charge of the gang. The show's "main" character is detective Jimmy McNulty and his "rag tag team" and trying not only to identity Avon (the head of the main gang in Baltimore) but take him down.

Season Two builds on Season One but Simon took a bold left turn and the main focus of the season turns to the docks of Baltimore (although you do find out the connection between the dock and the Baltimore gangs).

Season Three turns its focus back to the gangs versus the cops but it adds the political side of Baltimore- mainly up and comer Tommy Carcetti and adds a new gang to rival Avon- led by Marlo. I never liked Marlo. Mainly because he is (purposefully) a stark contradiction to Avon and especially my boy Stringer Bell. In Season One you see Bell go to business school at night. Stringer Bell takes the realistic approach to how to run the gang like what was shown in Freakonomics and Gang Leader For A Day. But Marlo is a pure street vicious S.O.B. Marlo is probably very realistic to how gangs operate but as a character I just disliked him. At least with Avon and Bell you loved to hate them. With Marlo I just hated him.

Season Four drew the focus back to the gangs but emphasized how kids were effected by gang culture. Most fans of the show loved Season Four because of this. As's Alan Sepinwall stated, it's a whole 'nother game when you turn your attention to the kids (I'm paraphrasing). But as a man who got drawn into characters, mainly Stringer Bell, I was disappointed in Season Four with the de-emphasis on the adult leaders of the gang and I did not get to see as much of Bell as I would have liked to.

Season Five built upon ALL the characters and plot lines of the first three seasons but added how the news and media affects everything.

The choice for me came down to Season One or Season Three. I really liked the Hamsterdam plot line of Season Three (You just have to see the show to understand Hamsterdam) and the huge role Stringer Bell played but it's that damned Marlo kid and his whole plot line that made Season One of The Wire my favorite season of the show.

Justified (FX)- SEASON TWO
(created by Graham Yost)

Justified is like Teddy Roosevelt. You know it's technically eligible but you're not quite sure what it's doing among the others. However, Justified is one of my personal favorite shows, and its second season might be the most fun you'll have watching a television season.

Based upon the short story "Fire In The Hole", Justified was supposed to be a procedural show about U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) and about how he chases a different outlaw bad guy ever week. The first season was pretty much that format, and it was fine, but it felt like a slicker version of a CBS show.

Then Justified took the leap in Season 2, both creatively and structurally. The show became more serialized and introduced one of the greatest Heavys in television history- Mags Bennett played by the incomparable character actress Margo Martindale. Martindale ended up winning an Emmy for her work on the show, and it is not difficult to see why. Similar to how The Joker made The Dark Knight the instant classic that it is, Mags Bennett did the same to season two of Justified. She was both dark and evil, yet full of charisma and charm. With her three sons, Coover, Doyle, and Dickie, Mags Bennett ruled Harlan County with an iron fist and warm bottle of her apple pie moonshine.

The second half of the show's second season was a pure adrenaline rush as the show pit Raylan vs. the Bennett family vs. the show's main antagonist Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins). It was a white-knuckle roller coaster ride that you never wanted to end. Ultimately, you knew the protagonist U.S. Marshall was going to win out, but you just didn't know how. It was that thrill factor that made the show so entertaining that why the second season of Justified is one the greatest seasons of television of all time. According to me.

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Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Best Singles Of The 2010's

This will be a continuing series throughout The Cover 3's tenure and I will continually update this list throughout the decade as newer and more deserving songs get released.

1) Someone Like You (2011)
Artist: Adele

2) Bonfire (2012)
Artist: Childish Gambino

3) Rolling In The Deep (2011)
Artist: Adele

4) Empire State Of Mind (2010)
Artist: Jay Z f/ Alicia Keys

5) Dog Days Are Over (2010)
Artist: Florence + The Machine

6) Power (2010)
Artist: Kanye West

7) Heartbeat (2012)
Artist: Childish Gambino

8) The Show Goes On (2011)
Artist: Lupe Fiasco

9) Tightrope (Wondamix) (2010)
Artist: Janella Monae f/ B.o.B. and Lupe Fiasco

10) Need You Now (2010)
Artist: Lady Antebellum

11) Rumour Has It (2011)
Artist: Adele

12) Fuck You (2011)
Artist: Cee Lo Green

13) Little Lion Man (2010)
Artist: Mumford and Sons

14) Blood Pressure (2011)
Artist: MuteMath

15) Pumped Up Kicks (2011)
Artist: Foster The People

16) Airplanes Part II (2010)
Artist: B.o.B. f/ Hayley Williams and Eminem

17) Paris (Oh La La) (2011)
Artist: Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

18) Ain't No Rest For The Wicked (2010)
Artist: Cage The Elephant

19) Tighten Up (2010)
Artist: Black Keys

20) Bulletproof (2010)
Artist: La Roux

21) Barton Hollow (2011)
Artist: The Civil Wars

22) Love The Way You Lie (2010)
Artist: Eminem f/ Rihanna

23) E.T. (2011)
Artist: Katy Perry f/ Kanye West

24) If I Die Young (2011)
Artist: The Band Perry

25) King Of Anything (2010)
Artist: Sara Bareilles

26) Set Fire To The Rain by Adele (2012)
27) Howlin' For You by The Black Keys (2011)
28) Walk by Foo Fighters (2011)
29) We Are Young by fun. f/ Janelle Monae (2012)
30) Dueces by Chris Brown (2010)
31) Lights by Elle Goulding (2012)

32) Resistence by Muse (2010)
33) Shake Me Down by Cage The Elephant (2011)
34) Like A G6 by Far East Movement f/ Dev (2010)
35) Moves Like Jagger by Maroon 5 f/ Christina Aguilera


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Friday, March 16, 2012

Drop Dead Gorgeous

My friend Jeffrey Gross from THT (and David "MVP" Eckstein on Game Of Inches) did a short film for a contest in school. He was given a week to write, film, and edit a film but it had to have two caveats: 1) It had to be a film noir film and 2) It had to have the line "I guess I won't be needed this anymore".

The script is actually pretty good and I love the music in the film the problem is the camera work and sound- especially towards the end. I mean, we only had five days to film and edit this thing. Give him a break.

But yours truly ended up doing the voice over and I really like this mini-mystery and how it all unraveled at the end.

Listen to the great voice over at the very end. I love that last line.

My Theory On Closers

The prevailing theory is that closers on bad teams will be the ones to easily accrue saves. The logic is that while terrible baseball teams will not win many games, they will at least win 60-70 (at minimum) and since the team itself are not very good, most of those wins will be by narrow margins (the bad team will only win by 1-3 runs) so that the closer will be given ample opportunity to accrue saves.

Well, I don't buy it.

I have a two prong test when it comes to which relief pitcher will generate saves.

The first prong is that the pitcher has to be good and has to be able to convert save opportunities. This idea is obvious but needs to be stated because I feel like this gets lost in translation. No matter if a reliever is on a good team or on a bad team or a mediocre team, if that reliever is not good enough to get outs to keep his team from retaining the lead and winning the game, nothing else matters. I am not under the belief that you need to have closer "stuff" or a "closer mentality" but if a pitcher is not good enough to nail down saves then he obviously is not good enough to accrue saves.

The second prong, and the most important prong because it is my hypothesis, is that: Closers on good teams, specifically on good teams with good pitching and bad offenses, are the ones to rack up a lot of saves.

My theory goes like this. Ultimately if a relief pitcher is in the game that means his team is up in the last inning and if the relief pitcher successfully converts the save opportunity that means his team has won the game. Teams who win a lot of games and win a lot of them by close margins are more likely to generate save opportunities (as well as generate them more consistently which is always nice for fantasy owners) than bad teams.

The prevailing theory assumes that bad teams win games by close margins but good teams do not. But that is just not true. There are plenty of good teams that win close games. Plus, bad teams can and do win games by high margins. The more a team wins, the greater the odds are that those wins can come from a successful converted save opportunity than teams who do not win games. Obviously I am not saying that bad teams can not have closers who accrue a lot of saves, that most certainly happens. However, what the prevailing view overlooks is the rest of the closers of good teams far outweighs the closers on bad teams.

Let's look at some data:

2011 Leaders In Saves Player (Team) [# of saves]
1) Jose Valverde (DET) [49]
2) John Axford (MIL) [46]
2) Criag Kimbrel (ATL) [46]
4) J.J. Putz (ARI) [45]
5) Mariano Rivera (NYY) [44]

The top five leaders in saves last year came from teams with over .500 records and if Atlanta had won the last game of the season then the top five leaders in saves would have also been on teams that went to the playoffs.

2010 Leaders In Saves Player (Team) [# of saves]
1) Brian Wilson (SF) [48]
2) Heath Bell (SD) [47]
3) Rafeal Soriano (TB) [45]
4) Joakim Soria (KC) [43]
5) Francisco Cordero (CIN) [40]
5) Neftali Feliz (TEX) [40]

*For the purposes of this article I am excluding Matt Capps who had 42 saves but was traded mid-season from the terrible Washington Nationals to the really good Minnesota Twins which just would end up confusing everything.

Let's break this down further. Between 2008- 2011 I looked at forty closers- the top ten in each individual year (again, the only one I excluded was Matt Capps in 2010, see: above). Here is how that breaks down:

- 65% of closers were on a team that finished over .500
- 35% of closers were on a team that finished under .500
- 45% of closers were on a team that had 90 wins or more
- 55% of closers were on a team that had 89 wins or less
- 45% of closers were on a team that made it to the playoffs
- 55% of closers were on a team that missed the playoffs

Let's break these numbers down even further to just the top five closers in terms of saves between 2008 - 2011.

- 80% of closers were on a team that finished over .500
- 20% of closers were on a tam that finished under .500
- 65% of closers were on a team that had 90 wins or more
- 35% of closers were on a team that had 89 wins or less
- 65% of closers were on a team that made it to the playoffs
- 35% of closers were on a team that missed the playoffs

At minimum there is no proven correlation between how terrible the team versus how many saves that team's closer gets- at least at the elite level. If anything, these stats help prove my point.

Let's now look at some players.

- In the past four years, Brian Wilson had a career year in saves and save opportunities in 2010. That was only year (in that time frame) in which the San Francisco Giants made it the playoffs (and also won the World Series). The Giants won 92 games that year. The Giants were 9th in the NL in runs scored but 1st in the NL in earned runs allowed.

- In the three years that Heath Bell has been closing for the San Diego Padres he also had a career year in 2010 in both saves and save opportunities. The Padres won 90 games in 2010. They only won 71 games in 2011 and 75 in 2009. In 2010, the Padres were 12th in the NL in runs scored but 2nd in the NL in earned runs allowed.

- In 2008 Francisco Rodriguez (K-Rod) set the MLB record for most saves by a player in a single season with 62 saves. His Los Angeles Angels won 100 games that year. The Angels were 10th in AL in runs scored but 3rd in the AL in earned runs allowed.

- Between 2003-2010, the top three years for Francisco Cordero in terms of save opportunities was, respectively: 2004 (54 opp), 2007 (51 opp), and 2010 (48 opp). Those three years just happen to be the three years in which the team that he was closing for finished with over 82 games (a +.500 record). In 2010, his Reds won the division and 91 games. In 2004 his Rangers won 89 games.

- I'm not going to look up exact stats but every year Mariano Rivera is awesome and collects saves like E.T. collects Reece's Pieces and every year the Yankees go to the playoffs- or at least go over .500.

What does all this mean? Does everything I've mentioned 100% prove my point? Absolutely not. Is this post mostly (if not completely) filled with anecdotal data? Yes. I don't know or claim to know how to do regression models and actual hard calculus-like analysis, but what I do know and what I do believe is that, in terms of saves, I want players who are on good teams. I am more actively seeking out closers on teams who will win lots of games and will win those games with pitching and defense.

Like I said earlier, the most important important characteristic I want out of a relief pitcher- at least in terms of fantasy value- is skill set. These opportunities mean nothing without underlining skills. And in fantasy the best relief pitchers are not necessarily the ones who rack up the most saves. Drew Storen was the 3rd best relief pitcher last year even though he was not in the top five in terms of saves just because he had a low ERA and WHIP and collected a lot of strike outs. Mariano Rivera, especially in recent years, will rack up a lot of saves but will do it with a relatively high ERA and WHIP and relatively low strike out totals compared to his elite counterparts.

I just hope I changed your mind about the correlation between low win totals and save opportunities.Or at least have you questioning the prevailed norm.

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

NCAA Tournament Contenders: Who's The Beauty Of The Ball?

This post is written by Guest Contributor Daniel Bennett

As almost anybody in the sports world knows, the only thing worth a damn in March is the College Basketball Tournament. With March Madness literally hours away from beginning, the Cover 3 thought it would be good to do a tournament breakdown and bracket analysis… So, here we go!

*Note, one section for each region will read “Other Possible Contenders”. With this tournament always being one crazy upset after another, I would like to point out that I am well aware that any team in any bracket has a chance of winning, this is just who I feel has the best chance to make it to the Final Four.


Overview: The South Region starts with Kentucky as the number 1 seed, and really that is all you will need to know. This Kentucky team is one of the best basketball has ever seen, and even though with John Calipari’s history it is doubtful this season will remain in the record books. For tournament purposes, this is probably the safest pick to reach the Final Four in this region, and the best chance that any one seed has at making it to New Orleans. Outside of Kentucky, a few things to note is that Indiana has lost its senior captain to a season ending injury, making it likely that they will beat New Mexico State in the First Round, but very unlikely that they beat Wichita State in the second. As far as my bracket goes, the only other upset I have in the South is in the first round with Colorado beating UNLV. UNLV seemed to hit their stride to early and faded out towards the end of the season, while Colorado did just the opposite.

My Pick to go to New Orleans: Kentucky. Seriously, I’m sure that their players will have to take a pay cut when they go to the NBA.

Other Contenders: None. As I said above, this is the easiest bracket by far for the one seed to make it all the way to the Final Four.

Game to Watch: Wichita St./ Kentucky. I’m going to use the term “sneaky good” several times in this post, pretty much meaning that this is a team that is good, but either undervalued or just did not receive enough media attention for people to notice. It’s difficult to imagine a team that went 30-1 as “sneaky”, but I believe that this will be Kentucky’s hardest matchup in the first round, and should make for an exciting game for all you anti-kentuckyites out there.


Overview: Unlike the South, I believe that the East has the hardest route for the one seed to make it all the way. First, Syracuse, shortly after selection Sunday, announced that their starting center was ineligible due to grades. Further, looking down the road, they will either have to face an Ohio State Team, that was ranked 2nd in the country for a good part of the season, is a co-Big Ten Champion, and made it to the finals of the Big Ten Tournament or a Florida State team that won the ACC tournament and went 4-1 against UNC and Duke this season. Needless to say, Syracuse has a rough road ahead, and even with the wonderful record they accumulated during the regular season, I have them not making the Final Four. Outside of that, there isn’t much else to talk about in the East. I do not foresee any huge upsets on this end of the bracket until the Sweet 16 and Elite 8, where I have FSU knocking off both OSU and Syracuse. The rest of the teams should fall when they face one of a higher seed.

My Pick to go to New Orleans: Florida State. As a three seed, they are the lowest ranked team I have going to the Final Four. However, anytime a team has 4 combined wins over UNC and Duke in a single season, they are clearly a force to be reckoned with.

Other Contenders: Syracuse, Ohio State. When all is said and done, as much as I like Florida State in this bracket, Syracuse is a number one seed for a reason and has the easiest path to the Final Four out of the East. Ohio State played very well all season, and even though I don’t think they will win, they have the ability to knock off any team at any time in this tournament.

Game to Watch: Florida State/Ohio State – Not only do I see this being a fast-paced, high scoring game, with the woes that Syracuse is having, I truly believe the winner of this game has the best shot of making the Final Four.

Game to Miss: Wisconsin/Harvard. This is the only region I will be doing this category for, and there is a chance these two will not meet. However, I feel I should alert all of you who plan to catch a game or two this tournament about this matchup. Wisconsin scored 63 points per game during the regular season making them 263rd overall in the country. Harvard scored 65 points a game during the regular season making them 229th in the country, and both of these teams have stingy defenses. Needless to say, first team to double digits wins.


Overview: This is overall the weakest region and comes down to 2 teams: UNC and Kansas. Every other team above the 7 spot is ranked too high and doesn’t stand a chance against these two. Georgetown, the 3 seed, had a good showing in the Big East, but will not be able to compete against either of the top two in this conference. Michigan the 4 seed was 500 on the road or at neutral site games with losses including Arkansas and Iowa. I could keep going down, but you I’m sure get the idea by now. Again, I have no real upsets in this bracket until the Elite 8.

My Pick to go to New Orleans: Kansas. Simply put, I think Kansas is the best team. This was a well coached squad that did incredibly well in a surprisingly good conference this year.

Other Contenders: UNC. You had to see this one coming. Again, it’s going to come down to that final game, and while I’m picking Kansas, I would not be shocked if UNC pulled through.

Game to Watch: UNC/Kansas- Honestly, if you didn’t figure this out be now, than you haven’t been reading this.


Overview: Michigan State is the one seed in this bracket, and honestly, this is probably going to be the most exciting region to watch. Missouri, was screwed out of a well-deserved number 1 seed, and has just as good of a shot as anyone to make it to the Final Four. Marquette, is another “sneaky good” team that spent most of the season ranked in the top ten, even though most people didn’t realize it. Louisville, is an underrated Big East team that could beat out anyone in the top three in this bracket. On top of all of this, there are teams like Memphis and Florida that are lurking in the background and have the speed and the talent to upset anyone at anytime. This, for me, was the hardest bracket to pick. But hey, someone had to do it.

My Pick to go to New Orleans: Michigan State. Some may say this was a pick with the heart and not the brain, and I’m going to admit that it was close. When all is said and done, with all the talent that is on the other teams in this region, many of them listed above, equaling MSU, I cannot pick against Izzo in March.

Other Contenders: Missouri, Marquette. As I stated above, Missouri could have had the number one seed in their own right, and Marquette is a sneaky good team. It would not shock me if either of these teams make it to the Final Four. The other teams I mentioned, Louisville, Florida, and Memphis, have the power to upset a team, but I don’t believe in them. For either of those schools to make it to the Final Four, they would most likely have to beat 2 out of the three of Missouri, Marquette and MSU, which I don’t think will happen.

Game to Watch: Missouri/Marquette. As I said, either of these teams, and MSU all have a great chance of winning, and since MSU plays Louisville in the Sweet 16, I believe that this will be the better game, and should set-up an interesting matchup for the Elite 8.

SHOUTOUT: I would at this point, like to give a shoutout to the Pac-12 for what has to be the worst collective basketball playing by a power conference ever. You are a conference with perennial powers such as UCLA, USC, and Arizona, and only sent two teams to the dance, one of them a play in who, in the first half of their play-in game, scored 13 points, which actually ties the 7th fewest amount in the tournament since the field of 64 started in 1985, and that includes 16 seeds vs. 1 seeds. But even beyond that, Washington, your regular season champion, did not even get an invite. That is the first time in the history of the tournament that a power conference regular season champion was not even good enough to make the dance. Needless to say, if this was a Saturday Night Liv skit, this would appear on the “Really?!?!” segment of Weekend Update. Get your act together Pac-12, you’re embarrassing yourself and the rest of us that hold Power Conference Status.

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The Best Movies Of The 2010's

This will be a continuing series throughout The Cover 3's run. I will continue to update this as new and better movies come out. Here is my list so far:

1) Inception (2010)
(dir. Christopher Nolan)

2) The Social Network (2010)
(dir. David Fincher)

3) Drive (2011)
(dir. Nicholas Winding Refn)

4) Young Adult (2011)
(dir. Jason Reitman)

5) Kick Ass (2010)
(dir. Matthew Vaughn)

6) Black Swan (2010)
(dir. Darren Aronofsky)

7) The Fighter (2010)
(dir. David O. Russell)

8) Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes (2011)
(dir. Rupert Wyatt)

9) The Artist (2011)
(dir. Michel Hazavicious)

10) Moneyball (2011)
(dir. Bennett Miller)

11) The King's Speech (2010)
(dir. Tom Hooper)

12) 50/50 (2011)
(dir. Jonathan Levine)

13) Toy Story 3 (2010)
(dir. Lee Unkrich)

14) The Descendants (2011)
(dir. Alexander Payne)

15) Chronicle (2012)
(dir. Josh Trank)

16) Frozen (2010)
(dir. Adam Green)

17) Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)
(dir. Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman)

18) X-Men: First Class (2011)
(dir. Matthew Vaughn)

19) Larry Crowne (2011)
(dir. Tom Hanks)

20) How To Train Your Dragon (2010)
(dir. Dean DuBlois, Chris Sanders)

21) Bridesmaids (2011) (dir. Paul Feig)
22) True Grit (2010) (dir. Joel Coen, Ethan Coen)
23) Midnight In Paris (2011) (dir. Woody Allen)
24) 127 Hours (2010) (dir. Danny Boyle)
25) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, Part II (2011) (dir. David Yates)
26) Winter's Bone (2010) (dir. Debra Granik)
27) The Help (2011) (dir. Tate Taylor)
28) The Kids Are Alright (2010) (dir. Lisa Cholodenko)
29) The Town (2010) (dir. Ben Affleck)
30) The Other Guys (2010) (dir. Adam McCay)
31) Mission: Impossible 3 (2011) (dir. Brad Bird)
32) Warrior (2011) (dir. Gavin O'Connor)
33) The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011) (dir. David Fincher)
34) Hugo (2011) (dir. Martin Scorsese)
35) Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011)  (dir. Tomas Alfredson)

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Welcome To The Cover 3!

Hello all and welcome to my new blog "The Cover 3". The name is a double entendre for both the football defensive scheme as well as for what this blog is all about. This blog will discuss the three things I enjoy most in this world: (1) fantasy sports, (2) all things pop culture, and (3) actual sports. These are the three things I will cover here on The Cover 3.

I have decided to branch out from my former blog Sports: A Game Of Inches due to creative and personal reasons. I'm glad I was able to start a blog with three great friends but I have decided that it is time for me to branch out on my own.

Stealing a page from Bill Simmons' Grantland page with his "The Triangle" and "Hollywood Prospectus" I too have decided to have nicknames for each of the three area I will cover. "Fantasy Island" is a name taken from the 1970's television show is where I will discuss all things fantasy related- mainly fantasy football and fantasy baseball. "Trivia Night" will be all things related to pop culture- music, movies, television shows and much more. This name is derived from all the bar room trivia nights I have attended. Lastly, we have "The 46" which is a reference to the great Bears defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan's scheme in which I will discuss all things sports related. My main forte's are Chicago sports and my two main sports are baseball and football but I'll be adventurous and branch out every now and then. I also plan on having guest contributors to the site to add richness to The Cover 3 that I sadly can not add to it on my own.

One last note before I leave you to explore this wondrous blog, comments have been disabled from the site. My old site received WAY too much spam in their comments and frankly I believe it to be unnecessary. If you wish to comment please feel free to do so on our Facebook Page.

I hope you enjoy and if you do please tell your friends and click on my advertisements.