Friday, October 23, 2009

Free Kicks: Abbreviated Kinda Late in the Day Edition

Okay, today might be a once in a lifetime moment for Free Kicks- I am going to be defending the Yankees and the defending a Buckeye (kind of). Windsor is coming up to see the Penn State-Michigan game, and so you may have to put up with a Michigan mention next week if the Wolverines take down the Nittany Lions. Probably won’t happen, but I can dream. Let’s line up for the kick…

Unlikely Yankee Apologist

I won’t be the guy to pile on Girardi for keeping A.J. Burnett in the game after the Yankees took the lead in the top of the seventh. Through six innings, Burnett had only thrown 80 pitches, and hadn’t allowed a run since the first inning. I prefer a manager let his starter keep pitching until he shows that he is slowing down or struggling. Burnett had been solid since his disastrous first, and deserved the chance to go out there. Granted, he then put the first two runners on board, but New York still held a 2 run lead at that point. That vaunted Yankees bullpen allowed not just those baserunners to score, but then tacked on one of their own.

And what would have happened if he had brought in a reliever at that point and they had given up the lead on their own? We would be toasting Girardi for not letting Burnett stay on a roll. Baltimore fans have watched Dave Trembley give his starters a quick hook and lose the game as a result. He made a judgment call, and it went the wrong way- it has gotten to the point that we inherently question every pitching call Girardi made last night because of the Yanks revolving bullpen door a couple games ago. He hasn’t been particularly solid in his decision making in the playoffs, but he stuck with his starter, and I won’t fault him for that.

An Overrated/Underutilized Buckeye

Terrelle Pryor has been under fire (and rightly so) for his deplorable performance with Ohio State this year, his poor play dragging down a team that could easily be undefeated with their staunch defense and overall talent. If you recall, Pryor was adamant that he wanted to play in a pro-style offense to increase his draft stock. However, he did this assuming that he could play in a pro-style offense. He assumed that he had the accuracy, poise, and arm to stand back in the pocket, read defenses, and deliver the ball to his receivers in tight windows. One problem: he wasn’t ready for it, still isn’t ready for it, and is asking to be put into a role he isn’t comfortable with. No matter how hard he wants to be Peyton Manning, he isn’t. He’s a better version of Pat White- and that isn’t anything to shy away from.

It seems that the Buckeye coaching staff is relenting to what was obvious two years ago about Pryor’s talents, and have begun incorporating the zone read into their offense- incidentally the foundation of the Rich Rodriguez offense that has made mobile quarterbacks so successful. And if Pryor was worried about lacking the opportunity to throw in Rich Rod’s offense, he could look no further than Tate Forcier’s success this season. But Pryor is getting what he wanted, with teammates telling reporters “He couldn’t do any worse.” This #1 recruit, the “LeBron in Cleats” may be wasting his talent the same way a great writer tries to be a math major and fails miserably despite their best efforts. OSU will turn it around, but only after they start calling the right plays, and forcing Pryor to start playing to his strengths.

Prediction for the Weekend:
Why do I keep doing this? I keep going out on a limb and getting crushed out here, but I will keep throwing them out there and see what happens. I am 1-3 now, in stark contrast to the 5-1 Ravens predictions. Well, I will return to college football to feature the matchup of mid-major ranked teams- how often does this happen in mid-season? TCU will travel to BYU, and while I would love to say that the Horned Frogs will show that they belong in the top 10 with a convincing win on the road, I can’t go there. I am going to give this one to BYU at home, where, Florida State game not withstanding, it is a very difficult place to play. TCU gets winded in Utah, and BYU takes it 34-21.

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