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Matthew Stafford CAN and WILL win you a fantasy championship!
Here is the thing, you’re looking for a late-round quarterback who has the ability to win you your league, right? Me too, but look no further than Matthew Stafford, QB for the Detroit Lions. I currently have Matthew Stafford ranked as my QB8 in 6 point passing TD leagues. On average he is being drafted as QB13 via Fantasy Pros ADP Checker and is falling into the double-digit rounds of your fantasy drafts. Before his back injury in 2019, Matthew Stafford was on pace to throw for almost 5000 yards and over 30 TD’s. As far as fantasy consistency goes, Matthew Stafford finished as the weekly QB1-6, 62.5% of the time, which if you owned him meant you were getting high-end QB1 results from a QB drafted late in your draft, this year is no different. Keep in mind the Lions have continued to surround Stafford with weapons by drafting De’Andre Swift to join Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, TJ Hockenson, and Danny Amendola. I want to take a deeper look into the stats just to show you guys how elite Matthew Stafford was playing in 2019 before the back injury. In 2019, Matthew Stafford showed a true passer rating of 107.9 which ranked 6th in the NFL. He also was ranked 2nd in Adjusted Yards Per Attempt with an average of 8.6 via playerprofiler. Along with that Stafford had a higher Red Zone completion percentage than Patrick Mahomes, DeShaun Watson, Kyler Murray, Dak Prescott, Carson Wentz, and much more. One of the most outrageous stats I found when doing my research was that in JUST 8 GAMES Matthew Stafford threw more Red Zone touchdowns than Patrick Mahomes did on the entire season and Stafford was on pace to throw a total of 22 RZ TD’s which is more than EVERY QB in the NFL not named Lamar Jackson or Russell Wilson. So, why is he falling in drafts? Is it name fatigue? Is it an injury risk? Maybe, but according to orthoinfo.org after a successful upper thoracic vertebral fracture surgery, a mouthful I know, it will take 6-12 weeks in a back brace before you can participate in any sports rehabilitation. However, 91.3% of all patients avoid post-reinjury problems and regain full mobility within a few months. Stafford was hurt on November 3rd, 2019 meaning he will have been recovering for nearly 10 months once the season starts in early September. Lastly, in March, 5 months ago, team doctors said that Stafford was fully healed and had begun working out again. So if you’re looking for a quarterback with a low-risk price tag but HIGH potential fantasy numbers? I’m betting on Matthew Stafford because he CAN and WILL win you your fantasy football leagues in 2020.
[Undertale Fan Art/Fandom] Sans is MINE!!1! and the tale of the tainted cookies
Welcome, one and all. I’ve been a lurker on this sub for a while, and I’ve decided it was time I contribute. This is my first shot with a story post on the snoo snoo site, so go easy on me. A warning for Undertale spoilers. Also, this write-up will make mention of pedophilia, incest, needles, tongue injuries, and food that has been tampered with. Yeah, the fandom gets kind of fucked up at points, but if that didn’t happen, I wouldn’t be writing this, now would I? Unless you make your residence under a rock, you’re aware of the 2015 indie game Undertale, developed by Toby Fox and Temmie Chang. You also probably know about its 2018 sort-of-sequel, Deltarune. But we’re not talking about Deltarune here. In a shellnut, the plot of Undertale is about a human child who falls into an underground world full of monsters. The monsters have been trapped there for centuries by magic, and the child’s soul is the key to their escape. The gimmick of Undertale is that the player can do a full “pacifist” run of the game in which they don’t kill a single NPC or random encounter creature. Doing this unlocks the Golden Ending. The player can also go out of their way to slaughter every NPC and creature in the Underground, in what’s called the “Genocide” or “No Mercy” run. The game will be sure to punish you for your pointless virtual cruelty if you do that (more on that later.) Undertale exploded in popularity because it is indeed a very well-made game. It’s been greatly praised for its themes, storytelling, music, humor, and atmosphere. Special mention goes to the characters; all the main characters and even some minor encounters are extremely well-developed and complex. Of these, fans are most obsessed with Sans the Skeleton. He’s a lazy but good-natured skeleton monster who loves cracking puns, drinking ketchup, and his brother Papyrus. In a pacifist run, he’s a fun jokester type and promises to look after you, but there are hints that he knows more about you and the game’s mechanics than he lets on. In a genocide run, all bets are off, since you killed his brother and everyone else. He subjects you to a ridiculously hard boss battle (you don’t fight him in a pacifist run at all) at the end of the run. Said boss battle is set to “Megalovania,” which Toby Fox composed for earlier games of his and then adapted for Undertale. Sans is a cool character. His boss battle is kickass. “Megalovania” is a banger. You can see where this is going. I don’t know why people are thirsty for Sans, though. Being obsessed with him for being cool, I understand. But the thirst, I don’t. He’s not hot and he wasn’t supposed to be, either. He’s short, implied to be chubby, always sports a shit-eating grin, and walks around in a hoodie, shorts, and silly bedroom slippers*. If you ask me, he’s more huggable than hot. But fans will be fans, I guess. It wasn’t long before there were scores of thirsty fans (mostly female, for usual reasons) all over this goofy skeleton. I don’t think I need to link fanart to prove it. Use your imagination. Insert pun about wanting to bone him. Sans would approve. What he wouldn’t approve, though, were some of their choices of who to ship him with. There are three Sans ships that are most popular in the fandom, and only one of them isn’t flagrantly creepy. Enter the stinkies, Frans and Fontcest, and the maybe-not-creepy Soriel. *There was a debate whether he wore slippers or sneakers. Undertale has simple pixel graphics and all battle sprites are in black and white, so it’s hard to tell going off the game alone. But the official merch shows him wearing slippers, so that’s what I’m going with. Frans refers to Frisk x Sans. If you didn’t know, Frisk is the canon name for the playable character in Undertale. Normally shipping the player character with an NPC would be fine, if not a bit wish fulfilly, since the PC is usually a stand in for you, the geek at the controls. Problem is, Frisk is a child, unambiguously so. They’re repeatedly called “kid,” “my child,” “kiddo,” etc. Based on the in-game sprite and official artwork, Frisk doesn’t look any older than 10. Sans, on the other hand, is clearly an adult. Cue the accusations of it being pedoriffic, and I can’t say as if I disagree. You most likely know the issue with Fontcest just by looking at the name. Yeah, it’s shipping Sans with Papyrus. His brother. Yuck. What is with fans and shipping incest? Anyway, Fontcest was also virulently hated in the fandom. Maybe even more so than Frans, since you can age up Frisk to make it less creepy, whereas explaining away Sans and Papyrus’s relationship is more difficult. Some people ship Fontcest shamelessly, while others try to find a workaround. Usually, they’ll bring in a Sans or Papyrus from one of the copious alternate universes in the fandom. (Most of which are just Sans and Papy in various hats.) Is it incest if they’re from different universes? I dunno, you make that judgment call. I’m just the reporter guy. That leaves us with Soriel – Sans shipped with Toriel, a character who is, thankfully, neither underage nor related to him. Toriel is an early-game NPC who rescues you from a flower trying to murder you (it makes sense in context) and escorts you through the tutorial level. (Toriel? Tu-torial? Get it? Yeah, I thought it was a little cheesy, too.) She’s a goat woman who loves humankind, despite what they’ve done to her race, and adores being a mom. She’s obsessively protective of you, to the point where she literally fights you when you try to leave her home. Her connection to Sans is that she befriended him through corny jokes and asked him to look after you. According to Sans, she’s the reason you aren’t “D E A D W H E R E Y O U S T A N D.” Okay, so Toriel isn’t underage, isn’t related to Sans, and has a meaningful connection to him, to boot. So where’s the problem? Why do fans get pissy over Soriel shipping? Well, to be honest...I have no idea. Sure, Toby Fox confirmed that Sans is too lazy for a relationship, but if you’re going to take that as gospel, then you shouldn’t ship him with anyone. And since when has the fandom listened to creators’ requests to not do the hippy dippy super shippy? Some people pulled out the “pedo” argument since Toriel is noticeably older than Sans (he even calls her “old lady” at one point), but an older woman and a younger man is different than an adult and a literal child if you ask me. Consenting adults and all that. Maybe the goat woman is a cougar, but I’d rather have that than skeletons being pedos and/or incest partakers. Of course, there’s always the tried-and-true “I’ll ship them with my OC.” Okay, fair enough, I guess. You do you. But you know how fandoms are, and naturally a lot of the Sans fangirls got slapped with “Sans is MINE!!1!” jokes. And who’s likely to root for Sans hooking up with some random chick instead of a well-known character, especially if said random chick stinks of Mary Sueishness and self-insert. I won’t cheer for Mary Sue x Sans, but it is better than those god-awful stories of him banging his sibling or creeping on a kid. So this probably just seems like normal fandom dumbfuckery, right? Well, I’m sorry to say that it goes beyond that. Our investigation into drama over who Sans should date leads us to the big incident that forms the real drama. Someone almost got killed because of Undertale shipping drama. Here’s the sordid story. This is where the part about the needles and tampered food comes in, so if that’s a trigger for you, this is your last chance to turn back. Apparently someone missed the core theme of the game – all that hoopla about mercy and love. A popular Undertale fan artist, Avimedes, attended a convention in Taiwan in 2017. While at the convention, a person, who has not yet been identified, approached Avimedes and offered her a box of homemade cookies. The artist, thinking it was a gesture of goodwill, accepted the treat and tried a cookie. Except this wasn’t a random act of kindness from a fan of her artwork; it was an attempt to get her hospitalized or worse. The cookies had needles in them – large sewing needles, to be exact. As Avimedes wasn’t aware of the adulteration before trying one, she ended up piercing her tongue on the needle and needed medical attention. Shortly thereafter, she posted a picture of the blood and needle on her Plurk (a Taiwanese social media site) with a morose comment about how she now has an extra piercing and can’t track down the person who did this to her. Despite the inability to catch the miscreant, fans suspect a particular motivation for the crime. Avimedes is a Frans shipper and often does artwork of it. Frisk is aged up in her artwork to avoid the whole deal seeming creepy. Despite the aging up, her behavior supposedly pissed off an “anti,” -- that is, a person who is opposed to shipping incest, pedo-ish stuff, and so on. The anti then concocted the tainted cookies and gave them to Avimedes with the hopes of injuring or even killing her. Fans have since been holding up the incident as an example of toxic anti culture (see the last two links in the references section), where moral ideology gets so fevered that it turns murderous. If that was indeed the cookie criminal’s intent, then those people have a point. As you’re probably well aware if you’ve spent five minutes in a fandom on Tumblr dot hell, shit really hits the fan when the antis and proshippers clash. But we don’t know the con criminal’s motives, and we never really will. Just don’t accept food from strangers at a con. And maybe don’t ship adults with children. References WARNING: Some links contain images of needles, blood, and chewed up food. DO NOT click on a link if those are a trigger for you.
Search the tags “undertale discourse,” “anti fontcest,” “anti frans,” and “anti soriel” on Tumblr to get a feel for what kind of fighting goes down in the fandom.
Sources on the tainted cookies story – a news article from Medium and a Tumblr post. Some links may lead to the photograph of the blood and needles; click links with caution if those are triggers for you.
Preface: I'm not including the consensus top guys like CEH, JT, Jeudy, or Lamb because while I love those players, I'm not necessarily higher on them than others. CEH and JT and my #1 and #2 players in the draft overall and Jeudy & Lamb are my WR1 and WR2 but everyone else has them in those same spots. I may actually be a little lower on Jeudy & Lamb than most as I prefer the top 5 RBs and don't see a huge gap between Jeudy/Lamb and the other Round 1 & Round 2 WRs. The only consensus "top guy" I have on my list is Burrow. QB Joe Burrow, 6'2/221, CIN (1.01) Burrow is a legit blue chip QB prospect worthy of the #1 overall pick and my favorite QB prospect since Andrew Luck. While he lacks elite arm talent, he has incredibly accuracy, poise, and mobility to manipulate the pocket. While Tua has a longer track record of success, he's never come close to having a season like Burrow's 2019. Really reminds me of Tony Romo or a less athletic Russell Wilson. I don't love CIN as an organization but Burrow projects as a potential transcendent player and has a decent amount of weapons around him in AJG, Boyd, Higgins, Ross, and Mixon. Jordan Love, 6'3/224, GB (1.26) Probably my favorite value in SF drafts this year. Love easily has the best arm talent in the entire draft class, routinely making jaw dropping throws. He's not a Josh Allen type either with scattershot accuracy and only capable of throwing the fastball. His accuracy is precise at all levels and he can manipulate his velocity and throw with touch. Furthermore, Love is a very mobile QB with the ability to evade pressure, escape the pocket, and keep his eyes downfield. Some of his throws on the run are reminiscent of Patrick Mahommes or Carson Wentz. The issue with Love is simply decision making - locking into his first read or trusting his arm too much. However, you look at his 2018 season and the volume of those bad decisions is not there. In 2019, Love lost not only his coaching staff but his main offensive weapons as well. Considering his elite traits, I'll gladly bet that Love can return to his 2018 form. I don't hate the situation either as sitting behind Rodgers for 1 or 2 years should be helpful and GB has proven itself over the last two decades to be a very stable organization that develops QBs. The upside is huge here and he's routinely available in the mid 2nd round. https://giphy.com/gifs/KeKkJrWyxH4bHjaMEV (throw vs LSU) https://gph.is/g/Z5YbQ36 (rollout) https://gph.is/g/4L5bqK0 (tight window) https://gph.is/g/aQO5gDA (touch) RB D'Andre Swift, 5'8/212, DET (2.03) My pre-draft RB1 and the #2 RB drafted, Swift is a huge value right now in all the rookie drafts I've done. It's pretty unbelievable that a player of his caliber and with his draft capital is available in the mid 1st. Even when on the field with Chubb and Michel as a freshman, Swift stood out as the best RB of the three. Ridiculous lateral agility to make defenders miss, great burst, fantastic receiver, and solid contact balance. The DET landing spot doesn't worry me as much as it seems to worry others. It's clearly below KC and IND (otherwise he'd be in tier 1) but he's tied to a very good, reasonably young QB and I like the offense as a whole with Golladay, Hockenson, MJ, and a solid OL. Kerryon does worry me, however, and there is some risk that Swift never take over as a bellcow. In sum, Swift is a slam dunk can't miss RB talent that's worthy of being the #1 overall pick in most years but is being faded due to short term landing spot. Watch his Auburn & Kentucky games from 2018 to get excited. Cam Akers, 5'10/217, LAR (2.20) A former top recruit, Akers chose to go to Florida St at the wrong time. Akers demonstrates every trait I look for in a RB at a high level - burst, toughness/violence, contact balance, lateral agility, and receiving ability. He didn't have the stage of Swift, Dobbins, CEH, or Taylor and didn't have the same type of huge games given the awfulness of Florida St. However, he's the most well rounded of the top RBs this year and has the highest upside. The one issue I have with Akers is questionable vision at times but it's hard to know whether to attribute that to him or the OL. I love the landing spot with the Rams. Just last year, people were touting the Rams as the best RB situation in the league after we saw CJ Anderson seamlessly fill in for Todd Gurley and put up huge production. I have a hard time believing that the Rams went from the most exciting young offense in the league 1 year ago to suddenly a bad landing spot. Yes, the OL is worse but we're also really bad at predicting OL play year to year. Akers landed in a young exciting offense with a history of utilizing a bellcow RB and has little competition. https://gph.is/g/apb5eq6 https://gph.is/g/aKAbBy3 https://gph.is/g/4bB5Yen AJ Dillon, 6/247, GB (2.30) Dillon is not a player I loved pre-draft but he's proven to be an amazing value in drafts this year given the depth and quality of the class. In any other year, a 2nd round RB with his size, athleticism, and production would be a top 5 pick but you can get him in the mid/late 2nd consistently. I didn't love the player coming out, but I recognized that he has the ability to be a big time producer if put in the right type of offense and that's exactly what happened in GB. I think his production this year has been undersold and with Aaron Jones' contract expiring next year, he'll likely take over as the RB1 in 2021. Antonio Gibson, 6/228, WSH (3.02) Big upside low floor pick. Gibson is one of the most exciting players to watch in this class with his big play ability, size, and explosion. At Memphis he played mostly slot WR but he was a pretty shitty WR and his upside lies at RB. He has a lot of work to do as he doesn't know what he's doing yet as a RB but the traits are really exciting - contact balance + burst. Could be David Johnson if things hit right. Don't love the landing spot as I'm still very high on Guice plus there is still a question mark regarding how Washington plans to use him. If he's used as a Wgadget guy then I don't have much interest in him. His game vs SMU is probably the most fun game I've watched this year. https://gph.is/g/ZOk5mNj https://gph.is/g/EGgbr8M https://gph.is/g/aeA5wDX https://gph.is/g/aXJ53nR https://gph.is/g/aKAb9z9 JaMycal Hasty, 5'8/205, SF (UDFA) My favorite 4th round dart throw, Hasty was my favorite satellite back in this year's class. Hasty is tiny but lightening quick and twitched up with a 90% SPARQ score and awesome burst. Great lateral cuts, big play ability, and can be a weapon in the receiving game. He landed in the perfect possible landing spot as an UDFA with Kyle Shannahan as we've seen that system make starts out of the likes of Olandis Gary, Mike Anderson, etc and there is an opening at RB. Mike Warren, 5'9/226, PHI (UDFA) Another one of my favorite 4th round dart throws, Warren is a really fun watch. He's a big, tough, powerful back with a surprising amount of wiggle and pass catching ability. My comp is a 95% version of Zack Moss. I like the landing spot as we don't know whether Doug Pederson wants a bruiser to complement Miles Sanders and Warren would be a good fit in that role. WR Jalen Reagor, 5'11/206, PHI (1.21) Loved Reagor pre-draft and he received premium draft capital in my favorite landing spot. Reagor immediately stands out when watching him as he looks like he's moving at a different speed than everyone else on the field. He's exceptionally twitched up and explosive and is among the easiest separators in the entire class. His game just looks effortless. Not only does he offer separation, YAC, and deep speed but he also shows the ability to make contested, difficult catches and displays excellent body control. He's a lot more well rounded to me than someone like Henry Ruggs or KJ Hamler. My biggest issue with Reagor is that he struggles to extend beyond his frame and thus doesn't give his QBs a huge target. PHI was my favorite WR landing spot in the class as I'm a big fan of that offense and Wentz and they have a huge hole at WR. Reminds me of a tougher but a little slower version of Brandin Cooks. https://gph.is/g/4w8d3Lx https://gph.is/g/4L5bpev https://gph.is/g/ZPm5zPX Brandon Aiyuk, 5'11/205, SF (1.25) Pre-draft I had Aiyuk as my WR3 and ranked in my top 20 overall. Aiyuk can create easy separation all over the field in a variety of ways: deep with straight line speed, with physicality, or with quickness and burst out of breaks. While he's not necessary a burner, Aiyuk is one of the most twitched up and dynamic WRs in this draft. He has the rare ability to cut without losing much speed and maintaining that speed after the catch. He's not necessarily a jump ball catcher but he has flashed the ability to make contested catches. Even in games where his production wasn't there, he's consistently open play after play. He's sometimes portrayed as just a deep ball and YAC guy but he has the ability to be so much more than. I also like the landing spot in SF. While SF will likely remain pretty run heavy, last year is likely somewhat of an outlier as the defense put them in so many great game scripts and defenses regress year to year. Seems like a good chance that the defense falls back a little this year. Also, I'm pretty happy with a player landing with a great young offensive coach who I know will put them in the best position to succeed and likely has a specific role in mind. Biggest issue with the landing spot to me is the presence of Kittle and Deebo but I'm willing to bet on the talent long term. Plus the foot injury to Deebo should leave Aiyuk as the alpha WR at least throughout training camp and likely early in the season, allowing him to potentially establish himself. His value is incredible right now as he routinely drops into the mid/late 2nd round. https://gph.is/g/Zd75D5D https://gph.is/g/4zqY3DK https://gph.is/g/4AjblvO https://gph.is/g/Z2mbxg7 Laviska Shenault, 6'1/227, JAX (2.10) Predraft, Shenault was my WR 5 and in my top 25/30 overall. Shenault has largely been forgotten about given the combination of WR depth this year and his injuries. He really shouldn't be as he is such a dynamic and exciting WR with huge upside. My comp for him is Sammy Watkins and AJ Brown. He has RB size with awesome physicality and YAC ability. He's a little raw in his routes and Colorado didn't do him a lot of favors as they just wanted to get the ball in his hands as much as possible and the easiest way to do so was on wildcat plays, reverses, and screens. Nonetheless, Shenault expresses excellent route running traits and creates easy separation with his burst and physicality. While I don't think he's a burner, he has sufficient speed to threaten and win deep. Combined with his contested catch ability and skills with the ball in his hands, Shenault is an incredibly exciting WR prospect. Biggest issues for me is the injuries but that's well baked into his price as a late 2nd round rookie pick - even though he was a top 50 NFL draft pick. For a mid/late 2nd round pick I'm more than happy to take a shot on an elite talent with injury risk. I'm fine with the landing spot in JAX as well as he can absolutely usurp DJ Chark and even if he doesn't, there's no clear #2 option in that offense. https://gph.is/g/apbqw33 https://gph.is/g/Z7ge57R https://gph.is/g/46vO5Dd https://gph.is/g/ZrdDloG Bryan Edwards, 6'3/212, LVR (3.17) Like Shenault and Aiyuk, Edwards is another big, dynamic, explosive WR with phenomenal YAC ability, toughness, and physicality. Furthermore, Edwards has been incredibly productive at South Carolina starting with his true freshman season at only 17 years old. Edwards can line up all over the formation and turns into a RB with the ball in his hands. Not just a YAC guy, Edwards flashes fantastic hands and the ability to make incredible circus catches. While he doesn't create consistent separation, his quickness and burst is more than sufficient. I really like the landing spot with the Raiders as well. While I don't think he'll do much his rookie year with Tyrell Williams playing the X, Ruggs at the Z, and Renfrow in the slot, he should take over for Tyrell as the X starting in 2021. Thus he's probably a great buy low during the year or even next offseason. https://gph.is/g/EJYbRne https://gph.is/g/a99bdlP https://gph.is/g/EGgb9Ml https://gph.is/g/aRW5N7w KJ Hamler, 5'9/178, DEN (2.12) Hamler is a crazy value right now as he's routinely available in the early 3rd round. Most years I think Hamler is an early 2nd round pick or even late 1st round pick as a top 50 drafted player with electric ability. I really don't see a huge difference between Hamler and Hollywood Brown just as pure prospects. Hamler immediately stands out when watching him with his twitchiness and speed and defenders simply cannot hang with him. He effortlessly separates with his quickness and long speed. While he has some bad drops, I've also seen him make some high level catches as well - plus he doesn't need to be a great contested catcher as he separates from defenders so easily. If Hamler wasn't hurt at the combine I think he would be getting a lot more buzz. I don't love the landing spot in DEN but a player with his talent + draft capital is a slam dunk pick in the late 2nd round or even 3rd round. Joe Reed, 6/224, LAC (5.05) My favorite dart throw 4th round WR, Reed is a WR in the mold of Deebo, AJ Brown, and Shenault as a rocked up, explosive YAC monster. Huge WR that looks like a RB at 6/224 and a 89th percentile SPARQ score, Reed was used all over the field by Virginia on reverses, screens, and even as a RB. He's pretty unrefined as a receiver and needs work but he flashes some contested catch ability. TE Devin Asiasi, 6'3/257, NE (3.27) As a preface, I don't love any of the TEs in this class and I'd rather send a 3rd for one of the guys from last year (Warring, Knox, Oliver, Sternberger) than spend a 2nd or 3rd on someone from this year. That said, Asiasi is my favorite TE value this year. A former top 50 recruit, Asiasi had a rocky road early in his college career. Initially enrolling in Michigan, Asiasi decided to move back home to CA and attend UCLA and as a result had to sit out the 2017 season. Asiasi projects as a Delanie Walker type of TE. While he lacks the size and physicality of some of the other top TEs, he's incredibly smooth and fluid out of his breaks and stems his routes very well to create easy separation. Pretty good YAC ability and is a solid blocker as well. Really like the landing spot in NE and Keene isn't a huge concern as NE has the ability to utilize 2 TEs if necessary and Keene was more of an H-Back at Virginia Tech.
Phil Hay is hosting another one of his Q&As with fans of Premier League club Leeds United. Leeds have been promoted to the Premier League as title-winning champions of the Championship and will compete in the 2020-21 Premier League for the first time since 2004. This Q&A will contain excitement and expectations ahead of Leeds' first Premier League campaign for 16 years. Premier League.
Phil spoke with Angus Kinnear earlier as part of a mini press conference. Sassy Angus says the club will sit down with Bielsa next week to sort out his contract and discuss the way forward. Phil says he expects them to find common ground and that those close to Bielsa say he wants to stay. They'll just have to meet the expectations he has as usual. Like the last two years, thinks it'll be another 12-month deal.
Not expecting Leeds to offload many players. Thinks the club should bin off Casilla for all the reasons we're very aware of but otherwise thinks Bielsa will back most of the current players. Phil's looking forward to hearing from the great man after the Derby game to hear his thoughts on how the club will approach the Premier League.
Says Leeds won't be flush with cash from the outset, what with fees due for Costa, Harrison and Meslier. And maybe Augustin. That, along with bonuses to players and transfer fee add-ons which total around £20m and then the general staff all get pay rises too. But Angus has said that Leeds will look to make 4 or 5 signings. Phil says it sounds like Leeds will mainly look at domestic players and he expects us to look closely at some of the top end Championship players as people have talked about them whenever he's asked. That being said Leeds have been looking at Lucas Martinez Quarta at River Plate and San Lorenzo striker Adolfo Gaich who apparently saw a move to CSKA Moscow fall through this week, among other players in Argentina.
Augustin won't be coming back but that doesn't mean Leeds won't have to pay the money to Leipzig anyway. Leipzig are still expecting the £18m and aren't a club you can walk all over. Likely to get very messy.
He was happy to see Bielsa so happy in the celebration videos that have come out. Says he deserved this moment as much as anyone, he's infectious and you can't help but warm to him. Also says that journalistically it's been a pleasure to write about him and that he's educated them all in various ways.
There will have to be upgrades to Elland Road to meet PL standards. The media facilities will be heavily changed and there are the new floodlights too. They also need to adapt the dugouts, the sunken benches don't meet PL requirements. Expansion on the West Stand, while part of the plans, is a longer term thing. Needs Leeds to be established in the PL so won't be happening yet.
Phil afforded him the excess of a fist bump when Emile Smith-Rowe scored. Says it was a surreal moment, these games have been so tough with West Brom and Brentford hanging around but it felt good.
Says his gut feeling is that Ben White won't be back but that 'there is a lot of sport to be played in that one'. Brighton want to keep him obviously but their offers of a new contract haven't been accepted yet and they will have to seriously hike up his wage to match his ability. Leeds obviously very keen to keep him but Liverpool and Man City like him too. As much as White will know he's developed a ton this season Angus made it clear that it won't be easy to do. Says White will cost over £20m, perhaps closer to £30m. Got to realise that he's being talked about as the best young CB around and keep in mind what that means for his price tag.
Phil's been asked a couple of times again about the QSI links. Says that any time he asks about QSI people at Leeds always say it's not happening but that it's odd because Radrizzani and Al-Khelaifi have a good relationship and the rumours don't go away. Says people think it's more likely that the 49ers up their stake in the club but at the same time, would Radz want to dilute his stake having just hit the big time?
Get the fuck in. That's it, just get the fuck in.
Very appreciative of the comments from fans dropping in to thank him for his work over the years. Says it's a great club to cover as a journalist because there's so much going on but that the Bielsa years have been the best by far. Has really enjoyed the freedom to pursue ideas and features at the Athletic.
Leeds will look for a new CB if White doesn't come back and a ST with Augustin unwanted. Also interested in Yasser Larouci, young LB from Liverpool although at this point Leeds haven't yet been willing to meet Liverpool's valuation on him.
Thinks Leeds would be very keen on getting involved in the race for Said Benrahma. Says not to rule that out if Brentford stay down. Leeds haven't yet indicated what they'll do with Casilla but that Emiliano Martinez was mentioned to him before Bernd Leno's injury, as was Angus Gunn (a loan target in Bielsa's first summer before he signed for Southampton).
Phil also confirms that Leeds like Emi Buendia and have watched John Swift at Reading too. No certainty that they'll go in for them though, they've watched a lot of players apparently. Thinks Leeds will go for young, promising players and will also be open to loans again.
Again reiterates that Leeds will take up the options for Meslier and Harrison.
Says it's not at all likely that Milner comes home this summer. Buzzkill.
Most looking forward to scum away, Liverpool away, Bielsa vs Pep and the return of Frank Lampard next season.
Bielsa will give the players a short holiday at the end of the season but then it'll be full-on with a shorter pre-season than usual. Helps that they're coming off training/playing so they won't be as cold as they usually would at the start of pre-season.
New kit will be released soon, basically ready to go now. Photoshoots in the process of being done. If not this coming week then the one after. Will be Adidas, doesn't think it's Qatar Airways on the front. Angus Kinnear said that shirt sponsorship increases tenfold going from Championship to Premier League so Leeds will either renegotiate with 32Red or change sponsors. Suspects they will change sponsors.
Thinks Leeds will stand a chance of staying up next season because they'll go in to the Premier League and attack teams. Key question is whether Bielsa's tactics will work because he sticks with them regardless.
There will be more Athletic coverage with Leeds in the PL and more people involved in analytical and tactical coverage.
Thinks it'll be a challenge for new signings to get up to speed over a shorter pre-season but that it'll help buying players who are match fit as opposed to Augustin waiting weeks to get up to speed having not played at Monaco.
Amazon have been on the scene again. Expecting a season two of Take Us Home but with fewer episodes than season one.
@DigitalWilson has been taking a hammering from the press guys for the pre-match music during these games. Says they're all blaming him for the 'shite' tunes.
The talk Bielsa gave the players after the defeat to Forest was a pivotal moment. Form since then has been better than Brentford's which is really saying something.
Dallas is his POTY but Hernandez has been sensational since the restart. Says there's a long list of candidates to be his favourite of the season. He's enjoyed watching Luke Ayling and he's delighted for Super Duper Liam Cooper because it's been a long journey for him and very difficult at times.
Phil celebrated with a few drinks last night. May have got a little teary too.
Agrees that Leeds have huge commercial potential. £50m turnover, 23,000 season tickets sold and over 100,000 shirts sold in the Championship says it all.
Gaetano Berardi will be offered a new deal but only he knows whether he'll take it but Phil asks the question whether he'll really turn down playing in the PL with Leeds.
Says he wouldn't be surprised if the boys looked a little, ahem, off colour tomorrow but says Bielsa will be back in serious Head Coach mode for the game.
Speaking of which - Bielsa told some at the club that he'd watched 19 hours of footage of Alfie McCalmont during the lockdown.
Thinks it's likely that betting sponsors will be banned as pressure is growing but that ultimately it'll be a government decision.
Thinks Eddie Nketiah will be entitled to a winners medal. The rule is that you have to have been named on 25% of teamsheets to get one, although clubs can then buy more.
In the last day or two, Phil has apparently received more sexual offers than his wife is happy about.
Says he'd guess that of the current team Cooper, Klich, Phillips, Ayling, Harrison all start the first game of next season, injuries permitting. Probably Dallas too and he suspects Bamford as well.
One final thing. He reminded us that we've witnessed history this weekend. It's history none of us will forget, Leeds United will never have another coach like Marcelo Bielsa. Enjoy these moments because we're so blessed to bear witness to them.
2020 r/baseball Power Rankings -- Preseason / Week 1: They May Take Half Our Season, But They'll Never Take Our Desire to Rank
Welcome back to baseball Power Rankings, 2020 Edition!
Eight years ago, naaahhman created this project and for the last seven I've shepherded a diligent team of voters, past and present, to bring you the longest running feature of this great subreddit. If this is your first rodeo, we employ 30 voters taken from each fandom / team subreddit. No one person has more influence than another and my own fandom does not enter the equation. This 2020 season is a chaotic one, but you will normally see this feature published on Monday between Noon and 2 PM Pacific -- so, we'll meet again next Monday, July 27th. Every voter has their own style / system and, while there are normally voting rules for guidance and numbers for analysis, this Preseason Vote called for a personal interpretation of what may transpire this season. Note: Are you a fan of the Phillies or Whitesox? We are seeking new representation for these teams. Please see this comment for details. Thank you to all voters who have left this project -- your work has been incredibly appreciated. TRANSPARENCY: this link will show you who voted each team where and has added neat statistics! If something is a little messed up, just chalk it up to general rustiness but feel free to pester me let me know. Total Votes: 27 of 28. The delta change somewhat irrelevantly refers to the last Power Ranking of the 2019 season for funsies.
It doesn't matter that the seasoned is shortened. It doesn't matter than summer camp was brief. It doesn't matter that the Astros cheated or that we came close. All that matters this season for the Dodgers is winning the whole damn thing. Anything less will be a disappointment.
Have you been watching preseason baseball? Because I have. I love that our HR leader is Kyle Higashioka and SO leader is Jordan Montgomery. This is going to be the year of AAAA allstars, and boy am I ready.
Bang bang. Now that that's cleared out of the way, let's get to it. Obviously, the Astros lost Gerrit Cole over the offseason, but are still blessed with a solid 1-2 punch in Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke. Lance McCullers Jr. will make his long awaited return from Tommy John surgery, and if he can stay healthy, he should emerge as one of the best #3 starters in the league. Offensively, the team should still be in great shape. All in all, it would be foolish to assume the Astros will compete for anything less than the AL pennant. Even with this offseason's losses, they are still an incredibly powerful team.
107 - 55
It's finally time for Twins baseball! The Bomba Squad is a force to be reckoned with this year, with the aquisition of Donaldson, Maeda, Rich Hill, and others to support a deadly offense that is arguably the best in the majors. The bullpen is a bona-fide strength this year with the expressive set-up men Romo and May to support the laser-focused Rogers. With a strong rotation of Berrios, Odorizzi, Maeda, Hill, and Dobnak, look for the Twins to repeat as 2020 AL Central Champions!
101 - 61
Quentionable offseason manuvering? Check. COVID hotspot? Check. Warm water? Also check. The Rays come into 2020 with the burden of expectations after last year's playoff appearance, and look poised to make it back. There have been several Rays-ey depth additions with the likes of Manuel Margot, Jose Martinez, and Randy Arozarena, with the headliner of Hunter Renfroe. Yoshi Tsutsugo also joins from the NPB. All of these additions seem to hinge on the hope they reproduce parts of past seasons, but given the FO's track record there's reason to be optimistic. The downside is the departure of arguably last year's best position player in Tommy Pham, and letting Travis d'Arnaud go in free agency in hopes of a Zunino bounceback. Everyone else is back and ready to roll. The most important thing is that the pitching staff remains largely the same, with the only notable loss being Emilio Pagan. The short season combined with Kevin Cash's pitching antics is where the optimism for the season really comes from, with the 1/2/3 of Morton/Snell/Glasnow + one of the top bullpens in baseball. In short, raise those Chois and flap those bois, baseball is back!
96 - 66
As fast as it began, our relationship with Yasiel Puig was "licked" by a positive COVID-19 test. Speaking of positive/COVID-19, the best first baseman in baseball has returned from his quarantine and is "feeling great!" We still have a hole to fill against lefties with Kakes opting out of the season. Look for a heavy platoon in the OF for now, but I imagine we revisit Puig if he can have the required 2 negative tests. If not, it might pave the way to the Show for Pache.
97 - 65
The 2019 World Series Champion Washingtion Nationals begin their title defense against Gerrit Cole as the only team to have beaten him in the last calendar year. Expect a high-flying yet low-scoring opening series against the Yankees as the Nationals will hand the baseball to three different pitchers who received 2019 Cy Young votes (Scherzer, Strasburg, and Corbin).
93 - 69
Before the end times, the A's were 1st in the cactus league. Our owner made a rare public statement- a mea cupola, after refusing to pay our minor league players. The local Sierra Club protested the organization's plans to build a new stadium, and they have good points. For a team that needs to win in this contention window to keep the franchise local, the shadow-boxing over the next labor agreement was less than ideal. Across several generations, the A's have been a second half team. Will this lead to a hot streak, or dissapointment?
97 - 65
THANK GOD Baseball is finally, finally being played again. An abbreviated season, but ball and bat all the same - and that means that in these strange times the only thing that matters is who gets hot and stays hot. I don't have a real guess how this season will go, I'm only glad that it's here.
91 - 71
The Cubs are as perplexing as ever. While the core that won them a World Series in 2016 is still intact, their lack of pitching depth and hitting consistency may once again be the deciding factors for this team. Hopefully Cubs fans will see some redemption for the abysmal collapse last fall. They are one of the few teams with no players testing positive for the coronavirus, but who knows how long that will last. Let's play ball for as long as we can!
84 - 78
Will Pete Alonso or Jeff McNeil avoid a Sophmore slump? Will Jacob deGrom contend for a third straight Cy Young? Will Brodie Van Wagenen be able to traverse the Cursed Dungeon of Glamdor to retrieve the fabled glowing amulet to finally lift the curse that has been placed on Jed Lowrie? I'm ready to find out, but I know more than anything, I'm ready to get hurt again. #LFGM
88 - 76
I think Milwaukee had the most transactions of anyone in the offseason, but none of these transactions brought a true impact player. The best thing this team has going for them is positional versitility. More than any other team Milwaukee can navigate losing a key player for multiple weeks in this short season.
89 - 73
The Tribe heads into 2020 well-poised for another 100-win 37-win season. The loss of aces Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer stings, but with a top-three of Bieber, Clevinger and a reportedly healthy Carlos Carrasco, the rotation is in great shape. The bullpen, headed by Brad Hand, Nick Wittgren and preternatural K machine James Karinchak, looks to put up another strong season. The lineup features at least six guys with 30-dinger power and two MVP candidates in Lindor and Ramirez. With no real weak spots and plenty of depth, look for Cleveland to be at the top of the division in a short season.
93 - 69
It feels good to be back. Am I confident that the season will (or should) be played to completion? Well now's not the time to talk about that. But am I confident in the team that Dick Williams and co. have assembled? I think so! The Reds have arguably the best top of the rotation in baseball with Gray, Castillo, and Bauer. They also brought in some free agent hitters you may have heard of. The defense could be ugly this year, especially if Nick Castellanos insists he's not a DH. On the whole, this Reds team really feels like they can do great things this year. I'm ready to get let down.
With 2020 NL MVP Ketel Marte leading the charge, a team of good-to-very-good players across the diamond has a chance to be a serious contender in this shortened season. This is a team with a decent amount of depth and moving parts, one that plays excellent defense and does the little things right--even on the nights the Snakes lose, nobody in the MLB is going to look forward to playing the D-backs.
85 - 77
72 - 89
81 - 81
In February, I don’t think I was alone in dying to see the season start. The Pads come into 2020 with a new manager, new faces in town, and of course best of all, big beautiful brown, jerseys. Given current events, and all that’s happened since, I wouldn’t blame anyone for not carrying that same enthusiasm with us to opening day, nor would I blame anyone for being skeptical of a season even finishing. What I can say, is I’m glad we’re back. The club comes in harder to predict than ever. My gut says the 60 game schedule against only west opponents will help, as well as one of the best bullpens in baseball. The infield should back our pitchers up, if their complimenting bats are alive and awake, then we could make some noise this year. The starting staff is still the biggest question mark on the team, as it relies on a young Paddack being consistent, a bounce back year for Richards, and overall health and improvement for the squad. I see the Pads starting slow, and picking up midseason, reaching a final record of 32-28. That would be the first winning season since ‘10, but likely still keep us out of the playoffs, which we haven’t reached since ‘06.
70 - 92
In a way, the Sox got lucky. This is probably the worst Sox team we'll see in awhile, and we only see 1/3rd of the games from them. They've been devastated by injuries, lost free agents (mookie 😭), and years of horrible front office decisions. Thankfully, we've got Chaim Bloom on our side to save us from the terrible signings and to hopefully build a juggernaut farm akin to the Dodgers and Yankees. Until then though, I'm looking forwards to a low expectation/low stress Red Sox season.
84 - 78
Wear a mask. Wash your hands. As for my rankings, I tried to do my best here. Not sure how these 60 games are going to go but I think the teams with the better pitching might have an advantage but honestly not sure. Fuck the Astros.
78 - 84
The 2020 Homeless Blue Jays will be must watch TV, featuring a lineup comprised of young studs Bo Bichette, Vladdy Jr, Cavan Biggio. Hyun-Jin Ryu will take the ball on opening day, and the rotation should feature Fireballing Rookie Nate Pearson by the 2nd week in August. Sure, the government disowned them, and they aren't actually ALLOWED to play in the country, but they're still Canada's team. In a Pandemic Shortened Season, featuring an improved pitching staff, with a fiery young lineup, much of the fan base has to be thinking "Why Not Us?".
67 - 95
After an offseason that included a public war of words between Nolan Arenado and GM Jeff Bridich (and not much else) the Rockies will look to recapture their 2017/2018 magic. Your guess is as good as mine if they can in an abbreviated season.
71 - 91
Buster Posey isn't playing because he's a hero. Tyler Beede is recovering from Tommy John surgery. Brandon Belt has a foot injury. Evan Longoria has an oblique injury. Pablo Sandoval is fat again. Heliot Ramos has a leg infection. Billy Hamilton is still working his way back from covid. But at least baseball is back I guess? At least a short season means the Giants will only be bad for 60 games, as opposed to 162.
77 - 85
Bob Nutting didn't sell the team, but the offseason otherwise went about as well as you could hope as a Pirates fan. The front office was wiped clean after a disasterous 2019, and new GM Ben Cherington will be tasked with bringing a winner back to Pittsburgh. He'll be using to 2020 season to sift through the wreckage that was Neal Huntington's 2019 roster, which means the on-field product will still be pretty bad. This year, I'll be looking to see if the pitching staff can take a step forward and if some of the Bucs' top prospects can hack it in limited MLB time. At least with a shortened season, Pirate fans only have to watch Colin Moran take the field for 60 games instead of an interminable 162.
69 - 93
Honestly - I don't even know how to rank this season. I'm not even sure the season ends when it's scheduled to. This entire thing seems like a giant clusterfuck. But, on the plus side, Bobby Witt Jr. looks like a future star. Only issue is that he's facing the Royals pitching...
59 - 103
57 - 105
BASEBALL 👏 SHOULD 👏 NOT 👏 BE 👏 PLAYED 👏 THIS 👏 YEAR 👏
68 - 94
Last year was TankforTork, so this year is... GetKreamedforKumar? We might need to work on that one. What I do know is that this will be another painful year, but a year offering some glimmers of hope as Casey Mize and Isaac Paredes figure to challenge for playing time later on (if we actually finish the season). Miguel Cabrera looks as slim as he's ever been in a Tigers uniform (BSOHL!!!) in order to lessen the load on his back and knees as he heads into the twilight of his Hall of Fame career.
47 - 114
The season will be 60 games, the Orioles have the toughest schedule (based on teams records from last year), and the supposed opening day starter already has a sore arm. If you could bet that the Orioles will have more losses than any team will have wins in Vegas...I would take that bet.
I'm pretty sure my parents' new church is a cult..
“I think your parents are in a cult,” my friend Todd said to me. It took me by surprise and I tried to pause my game, then remembered it was online and that I couldn’t. My character died a moment later. I was so stunned by what he had said I was no longer paying attention. “What are you talking about,” I asked him, passing him the game controller. We were playing a battle royale game and he was terrible at it, so I knew he would die and it would be my turn again soon. It was late at night and we were sitting in my basement on old couches – a spring poked into my back and foam material poked out of holes in the coffee-stained armrests. My parents were asleep upstairs, so I wasn’t really worried about them overhearing. Still I kept my voice down. “You didn’t think there was anything weird about that church service today,” he asked, tapping the controller against his knee. He sat up straight and held the controller more tightly, focused on lasting more than two minutes in the game this time. “Land on the outskirts,” I said. “You’re gonna die immediately if you try to land in one of the popular spots.” He waited for a while before dropping into the game, and I thought he might do a bit better this time. “That church pastor, man, he’s fucking weird. And what were they saying about a thirty day fast? Won’t they die if none of them eat for thirty days? Your mom and dad are really gonna do that?” Todd had been forced to accompany us to church, since that was a condition of the sleep-over. I had moved to Grantville with my family a couple years before and Todd was my best friend from my old hometown. He came over once in a while but less and less frequently these days. As much as I had promised myself I wouldn’t let it happen, I was losing touch with my old friends. I was hanging out with people I had met at school a lot more lately. It had taken me two full years to finally make some friends. I know, that’s a long time, tell me about it. My other friends from Bellwood hardly spoke to me anymore – Todd was the only one I still saw – we had been best friends. “It’s a juice fast. Yeah I know it’s really weird. They’re gonna have broth and soup and stuff too I guess, but still. No solid food for a month. I really don’t get it. I’m just glad I don’t have to do it.” My parents were probably worried about having children’s aide called on them, I thought to myself. They had just said I was exempted because I needed my energy for schoolwork and extracurricular activities. “Everybody in that place is so mesmerized by that pastor too, it’s freaky, man,” Todd said, focused on the game. I hadn’t noticed it before but I was really accustomed to it. From an outsider’s perspective I guessed it had been a bit strange. The church had grown over the last couple years and now had a couple hundred members. When we had first started going it was only a dozen or so of us. We had upgraded to newer and bigger buildings along the way. The people in the church respected the charismatic pastor, Steve, so much they fawned over him constantly, and revered him. They regarded him from their pews silently, respectfully, and with glowing admiration. Now there were a couple hundred people competing for his attention, and with increasing fervor. If someone even so much as coughed during one of his sermons they were shushed from six different directions and given death-glares from dozens of reprimanding eyes. Aside from that nobody ever stopped smiling at church – like a a bunch of jokers – their teeth showed constantly before and after service, to show everyone how happy they were to be there. I hated how fake it felt and refused to keep a phony grin plastered on my face every Sunday. I had gotten several comments about my “sour face" from smiling parishioners who asked me what was wrong every time they saw me. It was infuriating. The latest iteration of the church had been a huge transformation. A lot of the parishioners were involved in construction trades so it had been decided a new church would be built on the pastor’s land. He lived on a big farm and there were many acres of land there. Talk had begun about building houses on the land too, where parishioners could move if they so wished – to form a little community. My parents were excited about the prospect and I was more than a bit annoyed they were talking about moving again. I had just begun to make friends in the city and now they wanted to move out to the country to live on a subdivided farm owned by the church pastor! I was only sixteen though, so what could I really do other than voice my protests and be ignored. “Yeah I know it’s kinda weird,” I said, a bit self-consciously. “Kinda weird? Man, it’s fuckin’ bananas in that place. People speaking in tongues and casting demons out of gay people – that guy rolling around on the floor, screaming. What kinda weird shit is that anyways?” The more I thought about it, the more embarrassed I became. It was a crazy scene in there. It was a good thing he hadn’t come on rattlesnake day, two weekends ago, I thought. I doubted Todd would sleep over on a Saturday again. I took a sip from the sickly-sweet lemon vodka cooler we had gotten my brother to buy us at Todd’s request. We had successfully managed to hide them from my parents all weekend. “Well, I don’t know what to do. They said I don’t have to go anymore when I turn eighteen, so it’s only another couple years. What’s the worst that can happen?” “Just don’t drink the fucking Kool-aide, man. That’s all I’m saying.” He gave me a serious look and I nodded. It was good advice, and I vowed to follow it. * Ten months later I was on the back of a large wagon, hauling bundles of hay and stacking them in neat piles. There was a lot of work to be done in the communal fields. My mom’s hair was in disarray and she had dark circles under her eyes, but her grin was wide and manic. She had sweat stains all over the front of her shirt and under her arms. No doubt I looked the same, minus the smile. The church pastor, Steve, was up front on the tractor. He was driving the tractor which pulled the hay-wagon, wearing sunglasses and a ball cap. I noticed his white T-shirt looked clean and dry. He had soundproof headphones on to block out the noise from the tractor and a little fan was blowing into his face. He looked back at us once in a while and yelled directions while we swatted at horse flies, sweating and grunting and pulling bales of hay up from the ground. The friendly grin never left his face, and everyone followed his commands without question. The group just continued nodding and smiling regardless of how exhausted they all were. This was day three of our collective effort to bundle hay for the property so that it could be used to feed the communal livestock. There had been lots of projects like this lately, and I was always voluntold to help. I barely had time for homework anymore. But there was talk of a homeschooling program starting soon, with all the kids from church to be taught by Steve, the pastor. He had a diploma from a teacher’s college so it was only a matter of sorting out the legal paperwork. By next September we would all be his students, and not just on Sundays. A horse fly took a big chunk out of the back of my leg, behind my knee, and I yelped and swatted it. I lifted my hand and saw a large pool of blood and a squished bug body. One of the pastor’s kids, David, saw me and gave me a stern look, furrowing his brow. He wagged his finger at me and told me I shouldn’t kill living things, and said he was going to tell his dad. Oh great, I thought to myself. Any time I did anything within eyesight of the pastor’s four kids lately I was sure to hear about it later, even if it was innocent and I had done nothing wrong. Ironically, they were all hell-raisers who did nothing but stir up shit and cause trouble. My friend Todd refused to come over now, since we had moved to the communal farm. He had gotten into a fight with the pastor’s son, David, who was about our age. The fight had started because David had thrown a rock at Todd’s head, leaving a large goose egg and a laceration. Somehow, Todd had been blamed, according to my parents and the pastor, who had been quite angry with him for some reason. David was unscathed, since he was a foot taller than Todd and knocked him unconscious with one blow to my friend’s temple. I visited Todd at his house now, infrequently. My parents refused to drive me there so it was tough to find a way over. Most days I ended up stranded on the communal farm and as such was forced to help with the never-ending labour. Our house was still being built, so we lived in a large building with several other families and absolutely no privacy. It was a teenager’s worst nightmare. The wagon was full and I was told to stay behind in the hay fields and wait for them to come back. My brother and I were given vague instructions. Basically we would be standing around doing nothing, since the hay bales were already tied up and ready to go. I looked at my brother Richard with a confused expression. He was a year older so was almost free of this insanity. He said he was going to move out of the commune on his 18th birthday. We watched the wagon drive off and sat around for a while, complaining and swatting at flies and mosquitoes. We were both drenched in sweat and couldn’t wait to be finished for the day. We usually worked until dinner then called it quits, but today we had been forced to go back out afterwards to work until the sun went down. The expectations on us seemed to be getting greater and greater every day. There was only time for one more wagonload, I realized. The sun would be setting soon. The bugs were becoming more and more ferocious and I wished I had brought a bottle of bug spray. We sat there waiting for twenty minutes or so and I was beginning to wonder if they'd forgotten us out in the fields when my brother grabbed my wrist and exclaimed in shock. “What the hell is that?” He jumped backwards and I saw his eyes were wide and terrified. He was pointing into the woods. I followed his gaze and looked carefully into the foliage, straining my eyes in the dim light. I saw what looked to be a wolf, sitting in the shadows off the edge of the field. “It’s a wolf, I think,” I said, my voice trembling. I saw movement to the right and looked to see bushes swaying back from being disturbed as if something had just gone past them. I looked around, suddenly terrified. “There’s more of them,” my brother said in a whisper. I saw them now too. There were a few more, dotted around us at odd angles, like a hunting party. But wolves don’t usually hunt people, I thought. Something was strange about the wolves too. I looked closer but it was hard to see in the gathering darkness. It was their bodies – they didn’t look right. The fur was wrong, patchy and ill-fitting. I realized with alarm that these were not wolves – these were people in wolf clothing. The wolf faces were actually masks. I whispered this to Richard and he nodded his head, saying he had just noticed the same thing. I said we should run. He agreed. We got up from where we stood and bolted back towards the road. We took a logical shortcut through a patch of trees and that was our mistake – they had predicted it. I felt the world turn sickeningly upside-down and it took me a moment to realize I was ensnared in a trap. Everything was spinning and I saw I was hanging in a cargo net that swung from a high branch on a tall tree. It was like a trap from an episode of Scooby-Doo – how embarrassing. I saw that Richard had gotten past the trap somehow and was running back towards the commune. Hopefully he can get back there and call the police, I thought. I screamed after him, telling him to get help. He looked back over his shoulder and kept running, a terrified look on his face. Panic turned to dread when I saw him fall through the façade of leaves covering the pit. He disappeared from view and I heard him howling in pain a moment later. They had set two traps for us, it seemed, maybe more. “See, Jayson, this is why you need to remember not to be a sheep.” The familiar voice of Steve, the pastor, called up to me. He lifted up his wolf mask for just a second, revealing his always-present smile. Then he replaced the mask. His sermon last week had been all about not following bad examples set by people – even if we respected those people. Richard and I had looked at each other, giggling in our pews. I had looked back up at the altar and seen Steve staring at me, his sermon paused. I had looked around the church and seen the whole congregation had been staring at me, like a bad dream. A dozen others crowded around him now, all in grey fur and wearing wolf masks. They stared at me through the holes in the masks, and I realized they were the actual faces of wolves, that had been cut off and turned into face-coverings. They regarded me through the masks and it was surreal and horrifying at the same time. I recognized my mother’s eyes through one of the masks, at least I’m pretty sure it was her. She had to have known, at least. I was breathing fast and heavy, trying to make sense of the situation. In the background I heard my brother yelping and wailing, saying something about the bone, how the bone was sticking through the skin. It was hard to hear him from the bottom of that hole. Eventually he stopped screaming – no one went to check on him. “He was a lost cause. He had no plans of staying after his 18th birthday, did he, Jayson?” Steve’s voice was clear and remorseless. He waited for me to answer, saying nothing. I nodded my head. I was beginning to think they had no intention of helping him out of that pit. Much to my dismay, several of the wolf parishioners walked over to the hole, pulled shovels out from under piles of leaves, and began to cover the pit with dirt. Richard didn’t make a sound from down where he lay, at the bottom of the hole. “You have two choices. That’s the way I see it, Jayson. You can be a wolf. Or you can be a sheep. Which one do you want to be?” He looked up at me, holding a furry grey costume and a wolf mask that had materialized out of nowhere, it seemed. I realized at that moment, this wasn’t a human being I was looking at. This was something else entirely. There wasn’t any clear reason why I should think that, but looking back on it I don’t doubt it for a second. That man in the wolf mask, surrounded by his disciples, he was too convincing, too charismatic and charming. He made me want to do it, but only for a second. “Alright, alright. I’ll be a wolf. Just please, let me down.” The ropes were cutting into me painfully and it felt like I couldn’t breathe, the way I was tangled and compressed in the net. Steve made a motion with his hands and I dropped down to the ground. They untied the ropes and I stood up slowly from the net. It was good to be back on solid ground and I let my mind adjust to it for a second before what I was about to do. He handed the wolf clothing and mask to me, and I took it. I looked around at them all staring at me and said awkwardly, “I'm really shy. Just, um.. Give me a minute, I’m gonna go change.” I walked towards a big tree, pretending I was going behind it for a bit of privacy. When I got there I stepped behind it and threw the disgusting hairy garment to the pine needle strewn forest floor. I began to run. Not towards the commune, but towards the highway. They weren’t expecting this, I realized. It had been the dumbest and most impulsive escape plan ever, but it was working. I kept pumping my legs and running, jumping over stumps and fallen trees. The darkness was making it harder to see, but that could also work to my advantage, I realized. I didn’t even risk a look behind me, just continued running until I reached a clearing. I ran into the open field and something whizzed past my ear. I felt a sharp pain there a moment later and reached up with my hand. It came away covered in blood. I looked behind me and saw a wolf-man with a compound bow raised and an arrow pointed in my direction. I immediately realized it was David, the pastor’s son who had beat up my friend. He was an expert with a bow, and went hunting all the time. They were always talking about it but I never participated. Now I realized what they were hunting all these past months. The bratty, spoiled little smile he always wore now seemed even more terrifying, now that I knew the trophies he’d been bragging about were really human beings. I was suddenly very glad I had turned down the offers for play-dates our parents had attempted to implement. I shuddered to think what a play-date would be like for such a creature – still not knowing exactly what he was the offspring of. As if on cue, Steve the pastor walked up beside him with his own bow raised. They let their arrows fly simultaneously and one hit me square in the shoulder, the other caught the side of my neck, grazing it. I looked down in horror at the arrow which protruded from my shoulder, just above my clavicle. It looked like it had gone straight through without hitting a bone, at least. With dawning horror I realized I was no longer running, I was down on the ground on my hands and knees. I had apparently just passed out for a second or two. I looked back and saw Steve and David closing in on me. I jumped back to my feet and hobbled until I managed to break into a jog, then a run. I kept sprinting through the forest despite my injuries, although my pace slowed as I began to feel faint and tired from blood loss. Branches hit me in the face and sharp sticks cut me as I made my quick and careless way through the brush. The darkness had finally settled upon the forest and it was impossible to see into the distance. I realized with a wave of relief that I might get away, that the moonless night might aide my escape. I tried not to get too excited as I felt the blood squishing in my shoes like I had been walking through puddles on a rainy day. It dawned on me that no one would want to pick up a blood-soaked man standing at the side of the road with his thumb held out trying to look harmless. If I ran out into the road and waved my arms, screaming bloody murder, that would probably be the safest bet. The highway came into view suddenly as I came out of a thick patch of shrubbery. A pair of headlights came over a rise in the distance and I saw them coming towards me. I ran in that direction, my heart hammering in my chest, full of fear and hope and adrenaline. When the car was close enough I ran out into the road and began to wave my bloody arms around, screaming, I don’t even know what I was yelling but they stopped. A pretty girl with glasses and black hair rolled down her window. She appeared to be about my age and her face was unbelieving and full of shock. I jabbered and rambled and begged her to let me in. I pleaded with her, telling her they were hunting me, that they’d killed my brother. I heard the sound of the automatic doors unlocking and she told me to get in. I ran around to the other side and opened the car door. I closed it behind me as I sat down and put on my seatbelt. Someone was saying to drive, drive, drive, and I realized it was me. Her tires spun and I heard gravel flying as she hit the gas and we drove away from there, the engine roaring. I saw her hands were gripping the wheel tightly, and she was looking at me anxiously. “It’s all true. Don’t worry, I’m telling you the truth,” I said. “Look,” I pointed to the left side of the road and saw that she noticed them too. Several people in wolf fur and masks emerged from the forest holding bows and looking around side to side. She noted them without saying a word and continued driving, in the direction of the commune, not towards the city. Not towards safety. I pointed this out to her. “I know,” she said, and looked at me, smiling a wolfish grin. “I’m very well aware of that, Jayson.” JG
https://preview.redd.it/b1v30yvtkn651.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=04f75a5416546b59550b162abe5940c65f12ce5d I started this exercise of choosing second- and third-year players in the NFL I expect to take the next step in their development, based on being in a better situation due schematic changes, the respective team not re-signing certain veterans and allowing their young guys to play a bigger role or just my evaluation of them coming out of college. Once again, my criteria was – they were not allowed to have a Pro Bowl so far, reached a major statistical milestone (1000 yard season, double-digit sacks, etc.) or are just looked at generally as one of the better players at their position already. I didn’t include guys that made my list already last year (Kemoko Turay, Justin Reid, etc.) or haven’t seen the field at all yet (Jonah Williams, Hakeem Butler, etc.). Across my two articles on these breakout players, you will only find one top ten pick, since I believe those are obvious choices anyway, if those guys just haven’t been healthy or whatever it may be. In this version, we are looking at eight more defensive players ready to break out in 2020 after talking about offense last week already: https://preview.redd.it/uiunf81mug651.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=6446a7cc2e40ba090abe9cc9e047103831cef1e1
When I did these write-ups, I actually realized later on that Odenigbo was originally drafted in 2017 in the seventh round by the Vikings, but he only made the practice squad that year and was later claimed and waived by the Cardinals and Browns respectively. So since he finally made an active roster in 2018 and that’s when he finally saw the field, I thought he still qualifies. With all those guys Minnesota has had on the D-line in recent years, it was a challenge for Odenigbo to get their coaches to believe in him, having only played in one game for Arizona before last season. However, he was on the field more and more towards the end of this past year and with little investment in the draft into the front, the Vikings are betting on him to continue to develop, similar to what happened with Pro Bowler Danielle Hunter. Odenigbo recorded seven sacks and tackles for loss respectively, while adding another 18 pressures to the mix. He also forced a fumble and returned another one for a long touchdown against the Chargers, while he was actually called down on another scoop-and-score, where he originally got the trifecta (strip sack, fumble recovery and return TD). That is much more impressive putting it into context, as he played just a third of the defensive snaps. Now with Everson Griffen off the roster (unless he somehow decides to re-sign with the Vikes, Odenigbo is almost a shoe-in for that second defensive end spot in the starting lineup. Number 95 was mostly used in passing situations, especially early on, as three quarters of the snaps he played came on pass-rushing downs, and Mike Zimmer used his inside-out flexibility on different sub-packages. Odenigbo was asked to line up anywhere from pretty much 2i in sort of a track stance pointed inside to a wide nine alignment. His favorite (and best) move at this point is the dip and rip, but he also flashes a nice up-and-under combined with a high swim move. However, he also has a lot of power behind those pads, as he set up one of his teammates as the initial slanter versus Detroit and just flattened a guy I talked about in my offensive edition of this breakdown last week already in Frank Ragnow. In addition to that, I think the Vikings DE already shows good timing and execution on twists, freeing himself up by using teammates appropriately. As he seems to be transitioning to a starting role, the biggest question now is – How much improvement can he show as a run-defender? He displays very good pursuit coming unblocked from the backside, but at the point of attack he has some issues holding his ground at times, due to not always playing half the man and getting drawn in and allowing cutback lanes. In the pass game, Odenigbo needs to work on being more successful on secondary maneuvers and not give away opportunities if that initial rush stalls. https://preview.redd.it/pq74mx0mug651.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=8182390c28e3747fbb0ed0e9ea04426d25cfaf2f
Leading up to the 2018 NFL draft, Bradley Chubb was considered the clear-cut number one edge rusher coming out of N.C. State and after him most people said there was a huge drop-off. The Saints however shocked everybody by trading up to the 14th overall pick – not for a quarterback, but rather an outside linebacker from UTSA. While there isn’t a lot of buzz around Davenport entering year three of his pro career, I can promise that New Orleans did not spend their 2018 and ’19 first-round picks on a player they didn’t believe in. I was very surprised at the time of selection, because I thought they were looking for a more immediate-impact type of player with Drew Brees arriving in his 40s and the team coming off a 13-3 record, but there was never any question about the talent this kid presented. Davenport has missed three games in each of his first two years in the league and “only” put up 10.5 sacks, but he went from 28 QB pressures as a rookie to 50 last season. He might have been even better against the run, helping the Saints finish as the fourth-best rush defense at 91.3 yards allowed per game. So this is kind of a case for the improvement he has already made and I think the coaches in New Orleans already looked at 2019 as his breakout season, but among more casual fans, I believe Davenport will move his name into more of the conversation as one of the better young edge rushers this year. I personally had the young phenom as my 13th overall prospect coming out of San Antonio. When you put on his tape in college, that combination of explosiveness, power and closing burst really stood out. He already flashed the ability to string his hand together to dominate as a pass-rusher, but he needed to do it more consistently, and he showed the shock in his hands to own the point of attack, if he played with better extension. Those to me were certainly coachable areas and with the situation he was in, I thought he could produce in year two or three. Well, we have arrived at his third season and I believe he is ready to roll. I don’t think there’s much to critique as a run-defender about Davenport. He may still be a tick late recognizing some schemes, but when he extends those arms and drops the anchor, you won’t see much movement and he just owns tight-ends. In the pass game, I do believe he needs to broaden his repertoire a little and rush under a little more control, but he has clearly shown signs of becoming a difference-maker in that area as well. He has burst to win around the edge if he times his swipes up correctly, but also the immense power to bull-rush big offensive tackles back right into the quarterback’s lap. If he just learns to convert speed to power a little better and works on finishing that under-and-under he flashes with a follow-through chop, he could be scary. With third-round pick Zack Baun probably rushing outside on sub-packages, it will enable the Saints to move this guy and Cam Jordan more inside and create mismatches that way. https://preview.redd.it/lfbciv0mug651.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=da4072897c2bdf3e5d48946f7a1ddc2c24292f42
Simmons was the 19th overall pick for Tennessee last year. In his debut game he had three pressures on eleven pass-rushing snaps. The rest of the season wasn’t as promising, but considering I didn’t expect him to suit up at all in 2019 after tearing his ACL in pre-draft workouts, the fact he did collect valuable on-field experience, playing less than 40 percent of the defensive snaps just once from that point on, only helps him more. Purely based off his tape, I had Simmons as my IDL3, behind only Quinnen Williams and Ed Oliver (both top five prospects for me) and ahead of the two Clemson standouts (Christian Wilkins and Dexter Williams). I even said without the injury he would have been at least around the top ten when I put out my big board a few days ahead of last year’s draft. In limited playing time as a rookie, he recorded 32 tackles, four of them for loss and two sacks. Simmons was an immovable object at Mississippi State and looked to be the same among grown men. I went back and watched the Raiders game in week 14, who have some maulers in the run game and you saw guys almost bounce off the rookie as if he was a brick wall. More importantly, they doubled him on pretty much every single snap he was on the field, probably because of what they had already seen on tape. This guy has some shock in his hands, the ability to look through the blocker on zone-runs and then get back to the gap behind him as the running back decides to cut up into it. He didn’t look as mobile working his way down the line laterally as I thought he did in college and he will have to do a better job working across the face of some blockers, rather than allowing them to wall him off at times. You see him just be a split-second late of actually stopping the ball-carrier rather than allowing him to stumble forward or barely miss altogether. If he gets back to his collegiate form, he can be an elite run-stopper. Having him out there will allow the Titans to run primarily sub-packages with Harold Landry and now Vic Beasley on the edges. The area he still needs to prove himself at is getting after the quarterback. Simmons is very straight-forward as a pass-rusher and didn’t show a lot of finesse to win in that area, getting stuck with stalemates for the most part if he couldn’t drive his guy backwards initially. He flashed a few quick wins on reps with the arm-over, but he has to get off the ball with more of a plan. I believe his ability to shoot upfield, the unbelievable power and just that disruptive style of play will show up big time in his first year at full strength. https://preview.redd.it/7paequ0mug651.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=2c2f4c31d5e75928dfdc684c30a956b575544062
This young man was my fourth overall prospect in last year’s draft behind only Quinnen Williams, Nick Bosa and Josh Allen (the edge rusher). Oliver was an uber-talented, explosive athlete coming out Houston, who I think is still learning the game to some degree. He came in as a freshman with the Cougars and immediately dominated, recording 22 tackles for loss and being named First Team All-American – an honor he would repeat his two other years there as well. While it was obviously a transition from the AAC, where he was just so superior to everybody else physically, compared to lining up against professionals every single week, I thought he started flashing more and more as his rookie season progressed. And while Jordan Phillips just put up double-digit sacks for Buffalo and got a big deal from the Cardinals in the process, I thought Oliver was already the Bills’ best interior pass rusher in December. Overall he recorded five sacks and TFLs each to go with 31 pressures on 374 pass-rushing snaps. That ratio may not be up there with some of the league’s best, but he definitely showed sparks on winning in that area and he finished up playing 53.7 percent of the snaps on defense overall, as part of a deep rotation. Coming out of Houston a year ago, it was clear Oliver needed some time to adjust to the NFL, after he was playing at the nose mostly in college and not having to stay true to his run fits all the time. While there are still moments where his pad-level gets too high and I feel like he is a tick late recognizing the run scheme, at 287 pounds his anchor is excellent and he has the ability to chase down plays laterally. In the pass game his natural power and quickness present problems for the opposition. What really stands out as well is he flexibility he possesses, as can be knocked from the side and somehow regain his balance to keep going and even if he ends up outside his pass-rush lane, he just continues to work. Something Oliver does really well already, which will give him a couple of “easy” sacks in 2020 is set up his loops to the outside on a twist, staying tight and aiming at the outside shoulder of the guard before pivoting outside suddenly. As a rookie, he had his issues going up against the better-schooled guards in the league, especially trying to beat the Steelers’ Ramon Foster and David DeCastro, who landed their hands inside his chest early and Oliver couldn’t gain an advantage. If he can work on being a little more pro-active and rushes the passer with more of a plan overall, I think he could be a Pro Bowler in year two. https://preview.redd.it/z1xft71mug651.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=58865bb25882e11cf324d4541eb9fd75ea088307
A four-year starter at Wisconsin, Edwards recorded 366 tackles over the course of his career and made several impact plays for the Badgers. Unfortunately he could not participate in any on-field drills at the 2019 NFL combine due to a banged up ankle and if you can trust his pro day results, his athleticism is still below-average. Labelled as a classic college linebacker with limitations to translate his game to the next level, Edwards ultimately went undrafted and signed with the Eagles. As a rookie, he mostly made an impact on special teams, with nine combined tackles on punt and kickoff coverage. He only played 11 percent of the defensive snaps, but when he was on the field, he earned close to an elite grade by Pro Football Focus and got involved on another 21 tackles. When you divide those 122 snaps by the amount of tackles he recorded, that actually gives him the highest tackle rate of any player at the position with at least 100 snaps played. In his first year under defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, he was mainly utilized on early downs to stop the run, as he was on the field for 89 run downs compared to only 33 pass plays. That is somewhat understandable, since you just have to love his oldschool mind-set in the frame of a well-built, strong guy. Edwards aggressively shoots downhill on inside runs and drops the shoulder on lead-blockers trying to move him out of there, actually stonewalling some of those guys and creating traffic jams that way. At the same time, he shows enough patience with combo-blocks in front of him to not just give away free cutback lanes by overrunning plays, keeping bouncy feet as he deciphers what he sees in the backfield. He offers a sturdy base to absorb the contact by offensive linemen climbing up to him and keeps them at extension, while also showing the mobility to mirror pullers and beat them to the spot. Then he really brings some thump at initial contact on tackles to stop the forward momentum and missed only one attempt on the year (on special teams). It is kind of funny how Edwards was labelled a pure run-stopper because of some athletic limitations, when he actually intercepted ten passes and broke up another 15, while adding eight sacks throughout his career at Wisconsin. He may never be a candidate to shadow more dynamic backs or tight-ends one-on-one, but his feel in zone and ability to get involved as a blitzer should keep him on the field for third downs more. Edwards is also quick to recognize play-action and turn his head for potential crossers behind him before swiveling back towards the quarterback. I believe Edwards will be an excellent replacement for Zach Brown at MIKE, who left in free agency. There are some questions about linebacker trio with Duke Riley and Nathan Gerry, Jatavis Brown or Davion Taylor, but Edwards should be a fixture in the middle on first and second down at least. https://preview.redd.it/lgoeh60mug651.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=38e707ed0ad52312a4c01fc5f2f16153b2c83245
Murphy was my number one corner heading into the 2019 draft ahead of guys like Greedy Williams and DeAndre Baker and he was the first pick in round two. While he started all 16 games for Arizona and missed less than 30 snaps the entire season, I think barely anybody really knows about or watched this guy play for the Cardinals as rookie. There were definitely some learning experiences early on and if you look at the total yards and touchdowns allowed, it’s not a beautiful sight and 78 total tackles for any corner aren’t a great sign either. However, a lot of that had to do with the 105 targets coming his way (fourth-most by any player in the league) due to lining up on the opposite side of Patrick Peterson and the fact he was part of the 31st-ranked pass defense. I thought he improved every single week and he actually put up better marks in coverage than his running mate Peterson, despite being targeted at a much higher rate – 7.7 compared to 9.3 yards allowed per target. Murphy also intercepted one pass and broke up another ten. What I loved about Murphy coming out of Washington last year was his innate feel in zone coverage with an outstanding ability to click-and-close and be a play-maker. He can flip his hips with ease and has that gliding speed to stay on top of routes, rarely allowing opponents to detach from him late. In the run game, Murphy does not shy away from getting involved as a tackler, arriving low and up-ending bigger ball-carriers routinely. You see him fill the D-gap or squeeze plays from the outside on several occasions. He also won’t allow bigger receivers to bully him as blockers, keeping them away from his frame and leveraging the ball accordingly. The rookie mostly played in the slot versus 11 personnel once Patrick Peterson returned in week seven last season and he was utilized as a blitzer off the edge a few times, where he chased running backs down from behind or got into the face of the opposing quarterback. He was heavily exhausted when he was moved in the slot and had to follow receivers back-and-forth across the formation on motions at times. The one thing Murphy really struggled with as a rookie was playing with his back towards the quarterback on slot fades and such as, where receivers could use subtle push-offs and win with their frame, as he almost purely face-guarded them and didn’t even try to snap his head around. The Cardinals have added a super-rangy player is Isaiah Simmons and beef up front to stop the run on early downs, in order to set up third-and-long situations. Allowing the now second-year player to focus more on his coverage and now with veteran Robert Alford being brought in as another outside corner, I see Murphy taking the next step in his developing. By the way, re-watching those Cardinals tapes – Budda Baker is just a freaking baller. https://preview.redd.it/znok171mug651.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=18e3a805075eebfb64e6cea9726c1ceaaa2bd921
At the start of last year’s draft process, Ya-Sin wasn’t a huge name since he had only played one year at the FBS level for Temple. However, after he and now-49ers receiver Deebo Samuel went back and forth at the Senior Bowl, I started falling love with this guy and so did the scouting community. As a rookie with the Colts, wearing number 34 as the spot he was selected at, he started 13 of 15 games and played at least 93 percent of the snaps in ten of them. Ya-Sin was targeted on 15.2 percent of pass plays and he had some struggles, but he also improved a lot from the first to the second half of his debut campaign. There was one really rough showing versus one of the NFL’s young star receivers in Courtland Sutton, when he was penalized five times and was responsible for 75 receiving yards. However, the rest of the season he was called for defensive holding three times and for pass interference just once (40 total yards). That’s not too bad for a rookie who likes to get into the face of receivers and whose play-style out of college could be described as “grabby”. Over the final eight weeks, Ya-Sin held opposing QBs to a passer rating of just 75.8 and didn’t allow any touchdowns (after being responsible for two up to that point), while coming up with his first career pick. Ya-Sin can be described is a very sticky, quick-footed corner. As a rookie, he primarily played outside and faced some tough matchups, while even being asked to travel with some of the game’s elite, such as Michael Thomas. While I’m not saying that always went great, his competitiveness is off the charts and I think he has all the tools to develop into an excellent cover-corner. Ya-Sin was rarely just caught out of position. It was more about struggling to find the ball down the field and panicking a little when he did overcommit initially. The more experience he had, the more comfortable he felt turning his head and making a play on the ball. I still love his competitiveness, rapid feet at the line, ability to read the hips of the receiver and use his length to get his hands on the ball. He had a few textbook reps, staying in phase with the receiver from press alignmenz on hitch or curl routes and knocking the pass down coming out of the break. I thought playing in year one, he was also a pretty good edge-setter in the run game and he didn’t just wait for the ball-carrier to cut back inside to stay clean. You saw him fight off blocks and try to cut down the guy with the ball. Now with Pierre Desir gone in free agency, I expect Ya-Sin to step into the spotlight as Indy’s true CB1. The Colts also brought in veteran Xavier Rhoades, who I thought looked broken down last season, but will help this kid grow mentally as well. https://preview.redd.it/7m1nru0mug651.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=a0dea575bc086e12e446f31656bfcbab75acacb0
My top-rated safety from a year ago, I thought Adderley was a perfect match with Derwin James on the Chargers, because he has that range for a true deep middle safety to allow Derwin to roam and play more around the line of scrimmage. Unfortunately he had hamstring issues before even being drafted, which forced him to miss mandatory minicamp and most of training camp. He only appeared in one preseason game and then played 10 defensive snaps across four regular season games, making two pretty meaningless tackles, before the Chargers placed him on injured reserve. So with that little experience, Adderley barely meets my criteria, but he was active for four games and I want to grab the opportunity to talk about one of my favorites in last year’s draft. Coming out of Delaware, he filled the alley in the run game with the mind-set of a linebacker, while also showing the ability to cover ground to bail out his team-mates on the back-end. When the ball is completed in front of him, he punishes receivers and when it gets into his hand, he shows off his background as a kick returner, where we had one of the sickest plays I have ever seen, running an opponent over, staring him down and proceeding to go the end-zone. Outside of some questions about the level of competition in the FCS and how much different he moved different than anybody else, I loved everything about his game. The one time we did actually see him play with pros – week four of the preseason – Adderley made one interception and deflected another three passes, while one of them should have been another pick, with a receiver knocking the ball out of his hands late, and he got both hands on another ball down the seams to deny a touchdown. You could see him show up outside the numbers against go-routes and cut in front of deep in-breaking routes, which led to the one INT he actually made. In addition to that, you saw him try to go underneath offensive linemen and be willing to take on some contact on screen plays, instead of staying back and avoiding collisions, getting involved late on scrums or jumping on the back of a receiver trying to catch the ball at the sideline. Now with Chris Harris added to the mix, Casey Hayward on the opposite side and Desmond King in the slot, with the guys they have up front to get after the passer, plus Derwin possibly being sent as a blitzer with his stupid closing burst, Adderley has the ability to gamble and make plays. Plus he gives them somebody who plays with an attitude, which I really appreciated going back to my evaluations coming out of college. Before he can become an impact player, he first needs to beat out Rayshawn Jenkins, but I’d be shocked if he wasn’t on the field for the majority of snaps.
The Tiger and the Dragon - Exploring the history of Indo-Chinese Relations
A couple of months ago I was watching an anime named Toradora when I heard a certain line
Since ancient times, the dragon has been the only beast to equal the tiger
Immediately my mind jumped not to the romantic relationship between the two main characters of the anime (whom were represented by a Tiger and a Dragon respectively) but rather towards Indo-Chinese relations. I of course wanted to the obvious thing that came to mind and try to create a shitpost "Efortpost" on Indo Chinese relations through the lens of the anime Toradora, but sadly, India isn't a tsundere and China isn't a calm, gentle giant. So said shitpost was scrapped I did however start a draft with some actual research and with recent events, I've decided now is a great time to edumucate this sub on Indo Chinese relations. This post will be focusing upon the problems and conflicts between India and China. Citing things on reddit is an absolute fucking pain in the ass, so citations will be sparse unless I want to link to a specific dataset, map, visual or account. I will however be able to source anything I type here on request. Without further ado, let's jump in
The Ancient Past
India and China have had relations going back to ancient times, including trade, cultural exchange (fun fact: the guy who founded Shaolin was an Indian) and religious exchange (most notably, Buddhism). However, conflict between China and any of the various Indian entities was rare due to a small, little known mountain range known as the "Himalayas". The only notable war I know of was one between the Sikhs and the Qing in the 19th century, which the Sikhs were eager to end because of tensions with another empire, one which would be much more consequential in the modern day relations between India and China
The Lion and the Dragon
That great Empire of course was the British Empire. After the fall of the Marathas the main power in India at the time, the Sikhs remained the last major Indian power not under British control, and they too would eventually fall to the British. I could create a whole other post on the history of the British East India Company and the British Raj but that's not what we're talking about here. India of course, while not ruling itself, was still very consequential to China in this period. The British grew opium in India, which would kick off the Opium Wars, which resulted in the national humiliation of China. Indian troops were used in both the Opium Wars as well as the Boxer Rebellion in China, as well as to guard any concessions. But that's all in the past. What's really consequential is the borders drawn between China and the British.
So there's two separate border disputes between modern day India and China (you can see them on a map here) we need to discuss. The first is a disputed area between Northeastern India, specifically Arunchal Pradesh/Tibet. Arunchal Pradesh is a state of India which is controlled by India, however, China claims that the region is a part of Southern Tibet. This conflict goes back to the McMahon Line, a border agreement to settle the border between Northeast India and Southern Tibet was signed by the British and the Tibetans in 1914. Of course, China today does not recognize Tibetan independence or autonomy, not now or ever, and claim that the Tibetan government had no right to sign such a treaty, as such, they claim the treaty is invalid. The disputed territory of Arunchal Pradesh is populated by a lot of people, almost 1.4 million as of 2011. And while it does have some problems with religious tensions between the Chrisians on one side and the Hindus and Donyi-Poloists on the other, it appears that save for a few insurgents, citizens of the state are generally happy as a part of India. The other major conflict is to the north, near Kashmir in the region compromising Aksai Chin. The borders here are less defined. The British, who had just inherited Ladakh from the Sikhs, met with the Chinese to try to settle the border. There was no real sense of urgency, as Pangong Lake and Karakoram Pass provided good enough natural borders. But of course, just saying "let's use these two natural points as borders" is great and all, but it left a large region undefined, that region of course was Aksai Chin. Two treaties were signed by the British over the area, one with a then rebelling Xinjiang and another with some Chinese official at an embassy which either the Qing either didn't respond to or they did and accepted it? No one really knows, which sets a theme for this region. As for who controls what on the ground here, while India and Pakistan have the Line of Control over Kashmir, India and China have the Line of Actual Control, which despite its name, is fluid and more of an idea than a fact. Yep. There's literally border disputes about where the border of the dispute of the border dispute. To summarize, in Arunchal Pradesh, there is a permanent population and the border is somewhat more stable. No one knows what the fuck is going on in Aksai Chin
A Free TIger and a Red Dragon
On the 15th of August 1947, India would become a free nation once more. They were freed from British imperialism but would immediately be faced with many problems, including improving the conditions of the people of the nation as well as ensuring partition with Pakistan went smoothly (and when it didn't, to make sure Indian interests were secure). Ravaged by colonialism and war, India would begin a long and arduous process of nation building. About 3 years later, the Chinese Civil War drew to a close. Mao Zedong had done it. After temporarily putting the civil war on hold to fight the imperialist Japanese, the Chinese Communists would soon resume their civil war against the Chinese Nationalists. A civil war which would effectively be over by 1950. Ravaged by colonialism and war, China would begin a long and arduous process of nation building. The First Prime Minister of India, Nehru adopted a friendly policy towards China. China, which had concerns about Indian ambitions in Tibet, would see India stand by as China took Tibet by force. India under Nehru would pledge political non interference in Tibet. Instead, Nehru would trade the physical buffer Tibet provided with a "psychological buffer" called the "Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence", a treaty of cooperation with China. Nehru desired peaceful relations with China as he saw them as fellow Asian nations fighting off colonialism together. This sentiment would become popular as the slogan Hindi-Chini bhai-bhai, which roughly translates to India and China are Brothers would become popular among Indians. However, despite Nehru's desires for a "Indian-Chinese" axis as a third power in the Cold War against the US and USSR and the insistence by Chinese officials that there were no territorial disputes between India and China, China begun to become more and more hostile towards India. This started when India accepted the Dalai Lama as a refugee in 1959, which would enrage Mao. China would proceed to invade India in 1962
The Naive Tiger and the Hungry Dragon
India was completely caught by surprise as they were still largely under the belief of Hindi-Chini bhai-bhai. The unprepared Indians were trounced by the Chinese, who advanced in both disputed regions. The Chinese would withdraw in Arunchal Pradesh but captured Aksai Chin, which the Line of Actual Control comes from. For China, the war achieved all its military objectives but did hurt its international image. For India meanwhile, the war was a major turning point. Nehru was roundly criticized for his diplomatic strategy of "brotherhood" with an aggressive China. Patriotism and military spending would surge and China was, and still is to this day, seen as an enemy who betrayed India's friendly attitude. Heads flew as the defense minister was blamed and forced to resign, the military leadership was shook up and India became hypervigilant on both of its borders. In addition, the war also had some domesitc policy consequences for India. It created a sense of national unity, but racist laws were passed against Chinese Indians who might be "traitors" (these laws were only repealed recently). In addition, the Communist Party were accused of being traitors and they ended up schisming in the war. Lastly, Pakistan would try to attack in 1965 as they thought the Sino Indian war had exposed Indian weakness. The Pakistanis were repelled and Indian pride was restored to an extent.
The Vigilant Tiger and the Greedy Dragon
After getting stabbed in the back, Taiga India had done a total 180 on their China policy. Their military had modernized and was now ever vigilant on the Chinese border, just waiting for when China attacks again. And they did. In 1967, India and China would have a localized dispute over trenches and barbed wire. This post has gone on long enough so I won't go into too much detail, but basically, China dig trench on Indian side, India says fuck off, India builds barbed wire, China says fuck off, India says no this is our side. Repeat On 11 September 1967, the Chinese officer came and once more told the Indians to stop laying wires. The Indians refused. The Chinese then went to their bunkers and began open fire on Indian troops with machine gun fire, as well as starting an artillery barrage on Indian positions. Three days of skirmishes followed in which the Indians managed to destroy many Chinese bunkers. With many PLA fortifications destroyed and the advance of the PLA halted in its tracks, many in India considered this a victory and India in general was greatly pleased with the improvement of their fighting forces.
The Goat and the Dragon
Look at that, it's time for our side story! China and Pakistan! What do they have in common? Well they both hate India of course. To properly understand Indo Chinese relations, it'd be a mistake to leave Pakistan out of it. China and Pakistan had border disputes of their own in Kashmir, however, after China had successfully defeated its archrival in 1963, Pakistan would cede all disputed lands to instead ally Pakistan against India. Pakistan would come to rely on China as it's main ally against India and China would use Pakistan as a counter to India, providing political and economic aid. China was unable to help Pakistan in Indo Pakistani war of 1971 as India deployed troops on its border with China expecting just that possibility, however China and Pakistan's relations have deepened anyways, with Pakistan leaning more and more on China as its relations with the US deteriorate and betting heavily on China's BRI to help boost its economy. Obviously, such close relations to Pakistan would only alienate India from China even more. While previously, the only disputes between India and China were just Arunchal Pradesh and Aksai Chin, which honestly probably were solvable, as China became more and more invested in Pakistan, India and China also started to have opposing views on things like the Kashmir issue, which was much harder to overcome. Thus India's relationship to China will always include Pakistan playing a third wheel
The Tiger and Dragon Practice Restrain
In 1986, India would make Arunchal Pradesh a state. This would result in raising tensions and troops on the border But this time, unlike the others, it was diffused. Not a single life was lost in this conflict and the Indians and Chinese would agree to mutually lessen forces on the border. A breakthrough!
The Tiger and Dragon actually make some progress
Surprise! In the 2000's they actually solved a border dispute! China recognized the Indian State of Sikkim, which was previously claimed by China, as an official part of India. Various roads and borders were opened up to increase trade.
The Tale of the Tiger and The Two Dragons
Bhutan, affectionately known as the "Thunder Dragon Empire", is a small kingdom nestled in between India and China. The nation has traditionally been a part of India but has some border disputes with China of its own. In one of these disputed territories, China wished to build a road. In addition to the altruistic reason of wanting to protect its spherelings territorial integrity, India also wanted to protect its own. While India did not claim the region in question, if China managed to build the road, it would put the Siliguri Corridor, also known as the "Chicken Neck" at risk. Basically, a tiny strip of land which if occupied could effectively split India into two. India obviously did not want China to be able to split India into two. China meanwhile believed that they have sovereign over the area and not Bhutan, and claim they should be allowed to do what they want on their sovereign land. Indian and Chinese troops would gather at the border and face a tense standoff at the region, often being as the Indian media puts it "eyeball to eyeball". No shots were fired and eventually the dispute would end with the two nations deescalating and issuing conflicting claims, possibly in face saving measures. It is unclear if China agreed to halt road construction, though there have not been any further construction on the road so far. Regardless, this became a turn to a more assertive China policy from Indian lawmakers, and it didn't backfire spectacularly, signalling to Indian lawmakers that more aggressive options which would have been avoided in the past would be "on the table" now. This is notable because it is the first conflict between the two which India started
The Current Conflict
An effortpost on current events? What? No one honestly knows everything that's going on in Aksai Chin (where the current conflict is located), however it does seem to be escalating. There are multiple theories to why the conflict is happening, including various government wanting to show strength, China wanting to take advantage of the pandemic or Chinese concerns of an Indian road project on the Indian side of the LAC which would neutralize China's current infrastructure advantage over India in the region The conflict has up until today been tame in nature, though as I'm sure you guys have heard, that is no longer the case. Both Indian and Chinese sources have confirmed there have been fatalities, with only Indian sources providing numbers. The Indian news source ANI has claimed a total of 20 Indian deaths, 34 Indians missing, and 4 injured. It has on the flip side claimed 43 Chinese deaths and 7 injuries. The situation is volatile and I'm not going to claim to know what's happening on the ground.
The Big Picture
The future is honestly, rather pessimistic for these two nations. China continues to build relations with Pakistan as well as attempts to isolate India with its Sea of Pearls strategy. India on the other hand, is becoming closer to the other nations of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, an informal military alliance against China between India, the US, Australia and Japan. Notably, Japan and India are attempting to create an alternative to the BRI, India and Australia agree to use each others bases and Trump invites India to attend the G7 India has begun to move away from focusing solely on Pakistan towards focusing on both China and Pakistan equally. It is even possible, though currently unlikely, that India may abandon its traditional nonaligned position to formalize the Quadraliteral Security Dialogue into a real military alliance China on the other hand will continue to attempt to isolate India and improve its relations with Pakistan, who in addition to a counterweight against India, have become a central part of their BRI plan. Overall, expect India and China to fight more
Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives. PREVIOUSLY:
PROGRAMMING NOTE:Some of you may have missed last week's post because I didn't do it on Wednesday. Ended up posting it Thursday instead, so it's there in the archives below if you missed it. I know this 2002 series of Rewinds doesn't really have the momentum or appeal that it had back when I was posting them 3 times a week for years on end. Sorry about that, like I said before, I just decided to post these on a whim when the virus started and didn't really prepare for it so it's all kinda haphazard. But just didn't want anyone to miss the one from last week if it flew under the radar.
Steve Austin walked out of WWE this week and threw everything into upheaval. As a result, Raw featured Vince McMahon challenging Ric Flair to a match for ownership of the entire company. It was the ultimate final blow-off to a huge long-term angle, and they did it with only 2 hours of build-up. With Vince now in charge of both shows, questions are swirling about whether this spells the end of the brand split, only a few months in. The reason this all happened is because, only 6 hours before Raw went on the air, Steve Austin showed up to the arena and found out he was scheduled to wrestle (and Dave thinks put over, though he hasn't confirmed that yet) Brock Lesner. Dave immediately points out the obvious, that an Austin vs. Lesnar match is something you should build up ahead of time, not throw it on free TV with no build up at all. Plus, he's still so new, he's incredibly green, and he's spent the last few months selling way too much for people like the Hardyz and Bubba Ray Dudley. Hell, before he debuted in WWE, he wasn't even the most over guy in OVW. He's nowhere near the level you'd expect for him to be winning matches with Steve Austin un-hyped on free TV. In fact, Lesnar should probably go through just about everyone else on the roster before putting him against Austin. That's a potential Wrestlemania-level match and Dave seems befuddled that they would just book it for Raw like this.
Apparently Austin felt the same way because he and his wife Debra left the building and flew home before Vince McMahon even arrived to the arena, the second time since Wrestlemania that he has walked out on the company. A source who was there when McMahon learned of the news said that, for the first time anyone could remember, Vince seemed to drop his "game face" and there seemed to be genuine panic about what to do. Rock has one foot out the door to Hollywood. Undertaker and Triple H are banged up and won't be around forever (bet). Business is already collapsing. And now the biggest star the company's ever had just walked out the door. Last time Austin walked out after Wrestlemania, he was only away for 2 weeks. This time, there's a feeling it could be much longer. Those close to Austin say he's been unhappy for months and this decision wasn't anything specifically to do with the Lesnar match. That just happened to be the final straw. Austin made news last week when he went on the WWE's Byte This show and voiced his frustrations with the company's creative direction. Plans had been put into motion over the last couple weeks for Austin to feud with Eddie Guerrero and then Chris Benoit, which he was happy about (he was enjoying his recent house show matches with Eddie and Benoit is one of Austin's favorite opponents) but that's out the window now. Austin and Vince McMahon reportedly haven't been on good terms for several months now and word is the night before Raw, the two of them had a very heated conversation over the phone that left Austin pissed off and frustrated even before this went down.
And that's the deal on Austin. He has more money than he'll ever be able to spend and doesn't have any financial need to wrestle. He only does so because he enjoys it. And if he doesn't enjoy it anymore, then by all means, it's his right to leave and he doesn't owe the business anything if he wants to hang up the boots. But Dave does feel like Austin owes WWE at least a few weeks to write him out of storylines since he's such an important piece of the company. Walking out from a live TV taping is unprofessional and it leaves guys like Guerrero and Benoit left hanging, thus screwing up their future plans and money-making potential too (yeah, that's something that doesn't get talked about much. Austin walking out fucked Guerrero over pretty hard here. It would take him another 2 years to get back into that main event scene that he would have been involved in here). That being said, pretty much everyone in the locker room sympathizes with Austin and agrees with his complaints about the creative direction of the company, but not many of them were defending the way he walked out. And given that this is the second time he's done it, the feeling is he shouldn't be allowed back without facing some actual punishment this time.
So anyway, the day of Raw, they went into panic mode and had to re-write the entire show. And with the feeling Austin won't be coming back anytime soon, Vince felt they needed to do something big. So they went with blowing off the dual-owners angle in a match that was designed to turn Flair babyface again and establish Vince as the heel owner of everything. There was also discussion of turning Undertaker babyface again, since he's been getting more cheers than RVD when they work together at house shows lately but they decided against that for now (they end up doing it in a couple weeks). So now Flair has been abruptly turned back, after only turning heel a few weeks prior. The brand split may or may not be dead. And there we stand.
In what would have been a major story during any other week, DDP has officially retired from wrestling at age 46. Unfortunately, Austin's walk-out overshadowed everything. The decision on DDP's retirement was actually made by Vince McMahon and Jim Ross, who pretty much made the choice for him after they got his medical reports. DDP has been advised by multiple doctors that his spine is shot and he needs to retire. For the company's own liability, WWE decided to listen to the doctors and DDP agreed. There has been talk of finding ways for DDP to work the remainder of his contract for the company in a non-wrestling capacity. (He obviously ends up wrestling a handful of matches in the years since, but for the most part, this really was the end of DDP's in-ring career as a full-time wrestler).
There were a couple of moments on Raw this week where Shawn Michaels was cutting a promo and made a comment about Austin "losing his top spot" and another comment later about Rock "stealing Triple H's spot." A lot of people in the company backstage were upset, feeling like this was the same ol' Shawn, going into business for himself and trashing on Austin and Rock and yada yada. Not the case. Those comments were actually scripted for Shawn to say because they want to get over the idea that Shawn on the mic is a loose cannon and you never know when he might start "shooting" and say something he's not supposed to. It's all very dumb, you see. Almost like Vince Russo is coming back any day now or something.
Dave gives a big preview and rundown of the Jarrett family's new NWA-TNA promotion, which has its debut show next week on PPV. Not all cable systems are carrying it, however. Cablevision and Dish Network both declined to carry it, but DirecTV is. This cuts down on the number of available homes for the show and probably cuts 20-30% off their potential revenue. The main PPV provider in Canada, Viewer's Choice, has also declined to carry it. Steep mountain to climb here. Dave expects them to do decent numbers for their first show but predicts an XFL-like collapse after that. By week 3, Dave is scared for their chances. From here, Dave gives the whole history of other promotions who've tried to make it on PPV in the U.S., with varying degrees of success and failure. UWFI, UFC, ECW, WCW, PRIDE, etc, WWF has even toyed with similar ideas. In 1991, they did the one-off Tuesday In Texas PPV as a test to see if they could run PPVs back-to-back (Survivor Series was only the week prior) and it was a flop. The original concept for Shotgun Saturday Night was for it to be a weekly Saturday night PPV with a similar >$10 price point, but that idea got scrapped before it got off the ground and it became just another TV show. Dave doesn't think TNA is going to make it without a TV deal. This PPV exclusive plan just has too much working against it. The Jarretts have talked about the millions of disenfranchised fans that stopped watching after WCW died, and it's true. Those people are out there. But those millions of fans all checked out between 1999-2001, and TNA isn't going to win them back by using the same people and the same concepts that ran those viewers away from WCW. All your wacky booking ideas, your Vince Russos, your Jeff Jarretts as champion, bringing in guys that even WWE won't touch (Scott Hall), etc. Those are all the same things that ran away those WCW viewers. Dave just doesn't see how this experiment can work in its current form.
Vince McMahon himself was the latest guest on WWE's Byte This show and needless to say, it was interesting. Vince denied the idea that the wrestling business is "cyclical" and said it's more like a series of peaks and valleys that have slowly been trending upwards over the years. Vince also admitted WWE doesn't always make the best decisions but says their batting average is good overall. Vince also said he's proud to have the word "wrestling" in their company name, which is a pretty big about-face from all the years he's tried to publicly claim they were "sports entertainment, not wrestling." He admitted things are rough right now but said there are huge changes coming soon that will change the entire industry but wouldn't elaborate on what he had planned (I think time has proven that the answer to this was nothing whatsoever. They had no idea what they were doing during this time and were just making shit up as they went along). Vince acknowledged that Austin has been frustrated lately and said Austin is the most demanding of all the wrestlers in WWE. Vince also said he pays no attention to the internet because everyone thinks they're a booker. He also complained that it's hard to live up to people's expectations because fans all think they know everything now. Acknowledged ratings being down and played it off like, yes, WWE is sick. But it's only a cold, not pneumonia or anything, so don't panic.
More notes from Vince on Byte This because huge unbroken paragraphs suck: he hinted at producing movies starring WWE talent. Dave thinks that's a bad idea. "No Holds Barred," anyone? Criticized backyard wrestling, which Dave actually agrees with him 100% on. Was asked about bringing Vince Russo back and said he hasn't given it any thought but he has an open door policy (see you next week, Russo! Jeez, it almost makes you wonder if Vince got the idea from this interview or something). When asked about the recent Jim Cornette/Ed Ferrara incident, Vince basically seemed disinterested but said he admires Cornette's passion for wrestling but felt spitting in Ferrara's face was unprofessional. When asked about NWA-TNA, Vince said he didn't understand how they could do it without television. Trying to get people to pay $9.95 a week for a 2 hour show (a minor league product at that, because anything other than WWE is basically minor leagues at this point), when they already get Raw and Smackdown on free television. Otherwise, he said he has no opinions on it because he hasn't seen it, but Vince seems to share Dave's opinion. He doesn't see this PPV model as sustainable and doesn't seem particularly threatened by it.
NJPW's latest Best of the Super Juniors tournament is in the books and was a disappointment, just like everything else in NJPW lately. Koji Kanemoto won a pretty boring tournament. There was only one new name involved, which was Michinoku Pro wrestler Curry Man (Christopher Daniels under a mask). He's talented and charismatic but he's not even that big a star in Michinoku Pro, much less to the NJPW audience. Otherwise, it was more of the same, with no real notable matches.
Zero-1 in Japan is hoping to put together a working relationship with NWA-TNA. Specifically, they're hoping they can do a Shinya Hashimoto vs. Ken Shamrock feud, perhaps over the NWA title.
While training for his comeback, Kenta Kobashi messed up his shoulder doing bench presses, because of course he did. Doctors have told him not to return too soon but he still plans to be back in the ring by next month. Because of course he does.
NJPW's latest show at Budokan Hall was a disaster. From photos Dave saw, he figures there couldn't have been more than 3,500 fans in the building. Even at its weakest after the NOAH exodus, AJPW never fell below 7,000 at Budokan and this show looked to be half that. It's likely the smallest crowd NJPW has ever drawn to that arena. The whole show was said to be terrible because of the depressing atmosphere of a building that was 2/3 empty.
This week's World Cup game between Japan and Russia did a 66.1 TV rating, making it the #2 highest rated sports broadcast in the history of Japan. This is notable because by doing so, it surpassed the Rikidozan vs. Destroyer match from 1963, which did a 64.0 rating, knocking it down to #3 (for what it's worth, it's believed that a Rikidozan vs. Lou Thesz match in 1957 was actually watched by even more people, but official ratings weren't kept as detailed back then, so it can't be counted for sure).
Dave has read some excerpts from the new Shaun Assael book on Vince McMahon called "Sex, Lies, and Headlocks." From what he's read, Dave says it's a very good and accurate portrayal of how the WWE has grown to what it is today. Vince's former close friend and VP of Titan Sports during the expansion era Jim Troy and Jim Barnett were both interviewed for it, among others. If you're a hardcore fan who's been following the Observer for years, there's nothing new here that you probably don't already know from a major story standpoint, but there's some interesting details at least that were new to Dave. But to the average fan, this should be pretty eye-opening. Dave expects to have a full review soon.
CZW held its second annual Best of the Best tournament at the old ECW Arena and the show got rave reviews. Particularly British wrestlers Jodie Fleisch and Jonny Storm, who tore the house down in their match. Trent Acid defeated Fleisch to win the tournament.
The Coen brothers, producers of the movie "Fargo", have had talks with Bobby Heenan about doing a movie based on his life (this pretty obviously went nowhere).
New Jack is no longer working with XPW and has jumped ship to work with a rival local promoter in Southern California. Perhaps not coincidentally, the last check New Jack received from XPW promoter Rob Black for $800 ended up bouncing. Dave says New Jack probably isn't the guy you want to write bad checks to.
NWA-TNA has changed its taping plans and no longer plans to tour, and they will now be live every week. The first two shows will be taped this week in Huntsville and after that, all future shows will be live from Nashville at the 9,000-seat Municipal Auditorium. Apparently the rent for that building is really cheap because a newer, more modern arena was just built nearby, so TNA can afford it. That being said, with as much trouble as they're having selling tickets for the debut show in Huntsville, Dave thinks it's pretty optimistic to start trying to run live tapings in the same 9,000-seat building every week. He thinks they would be much better off running a small 800-seat building every week, with a smaller, more intimate atmosphere that would come across a lot better on TV than a big cavernous arena that, inevitably, is going to be mostly empty (to this day, 18 years later, TNA/Impact has never once drawn a crowd of 9,000 fans. Never even really close actually).
Various other TNA notes: Dave runs down the list of confirmed names for TNA's first taping. Rick Steiner, K-Krush (formerly K-Kwik in WWF), Konnan, Steve Corino, The Harris Brothers, Psicosis, and a bunch of others. Don Frye has talked to Jeff Jarrett about coming in to work a match with Ken Shamrock. Jackie Fargo is going to be there doing something. They made an offer to Shane Douglas but he only agreed to come in if they didn't hire Francine (some kind of falling out between them). TNA decided they'd rather have Francine. They're expected to be doing some kind of old school vs. new school angle so....yay. More latter-years WCW shit. Mike & Todd Shane are coming in as a tag team called Dick & Rod Johnson and will have costumes that apparently look like penises, just in case you were still on the fence about whether Vince Russo is involved. The top stars are basically making around $3,500 per week which is a pretty decent salary for one day's work every week. The guys without name value, on the other hand, are getting $300 per show and are covering their own transportation. Just in case you were still on the fence about whether Jerry Jarrett is involved.
Ken Shamrock did an interview and acknowledged that he hasn't done pro-wrestling in a few years and knows he's going to be rusty. He also said he's worried because with only 1 show per week, he won't really be able to get enough matches under his belt to get good again. He also said he's signed a 3 fight deal with UFC and will be fighting Tito Ortiz in September, which turns out to be a pretty huge damn deal.
Dave saw the K-1 match with former WCW developmental wrestler Bob Sapp vs. some dude. Doesn't matter. What matters is Bob Sapp is enormous ("makes Brock Lesnar look like Jerry Lynn"). And he mauled this poor guy. In fact, it looked like Sapp was trying to get DQ'd, as he started kicking and kneeing the guy while he was down and just treating it like a street fight, violating lots of rules in the process. He was DQ'd but then K-1 booked Sapp and this other dude for a rematch in July. That leads Dave to think this was planned as an effort to get Sapp over as a lunatic, but if it was a work, somebody should have told the other guy because Sapp fucked him right on up. "This was like everyone feared Mike Tyson would behave, but 1,000 times worse and from a man far more scary." Furthermore, Sapp came out in a full Ric Flair robe and to Ric Flair' ring music, and the arena went insane. Sapp has massive superstar appeal in Japan right now and promoting him as a violent psychopath who has no regards for the rules in a shoot fight appears to be getting over huge.
Edge will not need surgery for his torn labrum injury, so he'll only miss a few weeks of action instead of a few months. Edge is in the midst of the biggest push of his career and this is his chance to finally break through to the next level so needless to say, good news.
Notes from Raw: show opened with Vince walking out, which was unexpected since this is Flair's show. He said Austin wasn't there and made a point of saying Austin was too much of a coward to be there. Pretty well buried Austin and buried Raw as a bad show (blaming Flair in kayfabe for all the show's real life problems. Sorta like last year when they actually turned the bad ratings into a storyline by trying to blame it on Corbin. Some things never change). They're doing a storyline with Trish making fun of Molly Holly for allegedly having a fat ass because, again, some things never change. Former Tough Enough contestant Chris Nowinski debuted doing the Harvard grad gimmick like the heel jock in every teen movie. "The heel jock." Never change Dave. Shawn Michaels made his big return, cut his promo joining the NWO and turning heel on the fans before superkicking Booker T out of the group. So theoretically, this should mean Booker T should have to work his way through the entire NWO one by one before getting to Shawn at the end, in what should be Shawn's first match back. "I'm not holding my breath," Dave says. And of course, Vince beat Flair to take control of both shows. Horrible match but considering it was a last minute panic move, understandable under the circumstances. Lesnar ran in and helped Vince win the match.
Notes from Smackdown: during a big pull-apart brawl, several agents ran in to break it up. Among them were Dean Malenko and Fit Finlay, appearing on TV for the first time in their new backstage roles, and John Lauranitis who was also shown on TV last week. More gay jokes with Billy and Chuck and Rico, which Dave calls Russo-esque. Not quite yet. Jamie Noble was introduced with Nidia from Tough Enough season 1 as his valet, in a feud with Hurricane. There was a big effort to make Bob Holly a star this week, starting a feud with he and Kurt Angle and they really pushed Holly hard as a star and Angle busted his ass to try and get him over. And they did a show-long angle with Maven in the hospital (he's legit injured) and Torrie Wilson shows up, it's implied that she gives him a blowjob, and then Dr. Tajiri shows up, mists Torrie and beats up Maven. Dave is at least happy that they're trying to make an angle out of Maven's injury so he has a storyline to come back to, which is more effort than they put into most stuff these days.
Various WWE notes: referee Tim White suffered a torn rotator cuff in the Backlash Hell in a Cell match and will need surgery that will keep him out of the ring for months. Rey Mysterio is scheduled to debut on WWE house shows this week and, as of now, is expected to be wearing his mask again. Terry Taylor has been reaching out to get hired, but the company won't return his calls (they eventually re-hire him in September).
There's been a lot of praise for the new Spiderman comic "Tangled Web" which was written by Raven (I had to research this, but yeah. "Tangled Web" was a Spiderman anthology series that lasted about 2 years and had 22 issues. Each issue was written by different authors. Issue 14 was called "The Last Shoot" and sure enough, it was co-written by Raven alongside Brian Azzarello, who is the mind behind one of my favorite comic series of all time, 100 Bullets. And I had no idea. Wild).
The long-discussed plan of having Arn Anderson as Chris Benoit's manager seems to be off the table now. The thought is Anderson has been devalued so much in recent months (they pretty much wheel him out every time they need someone to take a beating for heat in a Flair feud) that he wouldn't be effective as a manager for a strong, serious heel.
Tough Enough II winner Linda Miles made her in-ring debut on Velocity, against Ivory. She was accompanied by fellow winner Jackie Gayda, who turned heel on her and cost Linda the match. Dave thinks it's waaaaaay too early to put these 2 women in a feud against each other considering how green they both still are.
The Rock, Vince McMahon, Undertaker, Jerry Lawler, Jm Ross, Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, and Shane McMahon were all in Memphis at the Mike Tyson/Lennox Lewis fight last week. Rock could be seen on camera a few rows deep throughout the fight, while Vince was shown on camera as a celebrity in attendance before the fight. The others were never shown on-camera, but they were all there. The PPV is estimated to have done 1.8 million buys and grossed a record $103 million, which are numbers that WWE can only dream of. Prior to the PPV, Rock co-hosted a pre-show party with guests such as Halle Berry and Britney Spears.
NEXT WEDNESDAY:Steve Austin accused of abusing Debra, much more on that situation and Austin's walkout, Jesse Ventura not running for re-election, Rock wrestles in Hawaii, and more...
Get the latest NBA injury report to ensure you're making an informed wager. Make sure to track your bets through The Action Network Sports Betting App. Download today! Tips for betting on the NRL. The NRL is Australia’s no.1 rugby league competition and features teams from all over the country, but is particularly prominent in the eastern states of Queensland and NSW. In this section we’ll highlight some general rules or tips for when you are betting on the NRL. Always look at the team line-ups: Even injuries made worse by the fall may receive a lower settlement than injuries that did not exist prior to the fall. Choose a traditional M.D. as opposed to an alternative medical practitioner or a chiropractor. Their statements hold up better in court and with insurance companies. All I want for Christmas is a clean sheet… You’d think with only 13pts scored by the entire back five from last week’s selection, there might be a change of personal. But no. Nothing. Results elsewhere meant Alisson got away with his howler and Robertson and van Dijk in front of him only needed to turn up to keep their place.Alonso managed just a single, but is the first defender to Top The Pacers always seem to be overlooked, so it’s sadly fitting that the biggest betting takeaway from Sabonis’ injury is actually about another team. Boston is the biggest beneficiary from how the dominoes are likely to fall from here. [Bet now at DraftKings. CO, NJ, PA, IN and WV only.]
5 NBA Stars Who Played Through HORRIBLE Injuries - Duration: 12:39. Mike Korzemba 1,694,771 views. 12:39. The Most SAVAGE NBA Fights of All Time - Duration: 11:42. You're going to fall off your skateboard from time to time, and the bigger you are, the more it's going to hurt. In this video I explain how to minimise your injuries. This horrific cliff fall was the result of a missed jump while filming b-roll for an episode of Breaking Trail in Arizona. Talk about a scary accident! Not only does Coyote fall backward with ... Sports Betting Tips: Direct from the WagerTalk TV Studios in Las Vegas, Kelly Stewart talks with sports betting expert Marco D’Angelo, who share some of their personal tips on how to handicap ... Worst MLB Injuries EVER! Here are some of the worst injuries ever in MLB Baseball history. The Best Way to Stay up to Date with Awesome Sports Videos is to Subscribe and Click the Bell Icon so you ...