Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Baseball 101

The purpose of the lead-off hitter is for them to get on base. Get on base, whether it is by drawing a walk or getting the base hit. The first priority for the lead-off hitter is to have the highest on base percentage on the team.

(Photo via Wikipedia)
Not all MLB teams believe in having their lead-off hitter be the one with the highest on base percentage though. For example, Willy Taveras was the lead-off hitter when he was with the Houston Astros.  Taveras, the Astros center fielder, had a very poor on base percentage. I always thought the Astros were digging themselves in a hole with Taveras as the lead-off hitter, but I guess it's what worked for them. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

2012 Alabama Crimson Tide Football Preview

English: Cropped photograph of Alabama head fo...
Nick Saban at a practice in the fall of 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another year, another national championship added to a long list of Alabama merchandise. The Tide just keeps on rolling in Tuscaloosa under Nick Saban. How many teams can fail to win their conference championship but still be hoisting the trophy at year's end?

The Crimson Tide has two titles under Saban, who also won it all at LSU in 2003, joining the legendary Bear Bryant as the only coaches to win national championships at two different schools. Entering his sixth season with the Tide, Saban has a W-L mark of 50-12, 146-56-1 overall.

The 2012 version of the Crimson Tide is expected to be another powerhouse, despite significant losses to graduation and the NFL Draft.


Alabama had 17 starters returning last season, so they figured to be a player nationally. The Tide also had a ballyhooed recruiting class coming in, and after watching hated rival Auburn capture the 2010 national title, there was certainly ample motivation.

The Tide roared through their first eight opponents by an average score of 39-6, including two shutouts. Alabama was ranked no lower than #3 in the polls, and in Week 9, Bryant-Denny Stadium played host to the latest "Game of the Century," this time ranked #2 and going against #1 LSU. In a classic defensive struggle, LSU edged 'Bama 9-6 in overtime, all points coming on field goals.

Alabama recovered to finish the regular season at 11-1, including a "payback" 42-14 win at Auburn. The LSU loss kept the Tide out of the SEC Championship game, but a rematch was upcoming, this time the stakes being a national championship. Alabama's defense dominated, shutting down the Tigers, 21-0.

On the season, the defense led the nation in total defense, rushing and pass defense and points allowed, a first for any BCS school.

The Tide had an impressive presence at the 2012 NFL Draft. Eight players were selected, including four in the first round, RB Tre Richardson, S Mark Barron, CB Dre Kirkpatrick and LB Dont'a Hightower.


The personnel losses suffered by the Tide would send most programs reeling. At Alabama however, it's usually just a matter of sliding yet another bluechip recruit into the vacated slot.

QB A.J. McCarron earned the position last season, and is expected to improve. RB Eddie Lacy will step into the feature back role, but expect redshirt freshman Dee Hart to also pile up yardage. The receiving corps took a significant hit, and Kenny Bell is a returnee who needs to raise his game. Three starters return up front, each of them (Barrett Jones, D.J. Fluker, Chance Warmack) All-American candidates.

No one expects this season's defense to dominate like 2011's. The front three needs to be retooled, while the linebacking unit will be led by Nico Johnson and Trey DePriest. The secondary replaces three starters, with Robert Lester and Vinnie Sunseri expected to lead the group.


Several incoming freshmen will have an opportunity to contribute early. WR Chris Black has blazing speed, especially after the catch, while LB Dillon Lee has all the intangibles. RB T.J. Yeldon has both size and speed and will get an early look.


Alabama opens defense of its national championship against Michigan at Cowboys Stadium. The remainder of the schedule isn't daunting, possible exceptions being road games at new SEC member Missouri, Arkansas and a rematch with LSU. If the replacements fill their roles adequately, a return to the BCS Championship Bowl game wouldn't be a shocker.