Friday, December 23, 2011

Five For Friday

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FIFA released it's latest women's rankings today and the United States remains in the top spot. The U.S. women maintain a narrow lead over Germany while World Cup Champion Japan moves into the Top 3 for the first time ever. Nigeria leads the Confederation of African Football (CAF) at number 27, Brazil drops out of the Top 3 for the first time since 2008, but still leads the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) at number 4, and New Zealand, who the U.S. will play in February, leads the Oceania Football Conference (OFC) at number 24. Here's a look at the Top 20:

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What a strange week for Chuck Hayes. The former Rockets center had signed a 4 year deal with the Sacramento Kings worth $21.3M only to have it voided when he failed a physical due to the discovery of a  heart irregularity. Hayes then flew to Cleveland for further evaluation from specialists at the Cleveland Clinic and after nearly 11 hours of testing, he was told by doctors Thursday morning that he does NOT in fact have a heart problem and can continue to play without concern. So now Hayes once again has a deal with the Kings, only it's worth $22.4M now instead of the original $21.3M. What's up with that? Inflation? In any case, good for Chuck. He's got himself a clean bill of health, an extra $1.1M, and should be a good fit in Sacramento.

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Anyone else think Boise State deserved better this bowl season? One missed field goal cost them an undefeated season, a conference title, and a BCS Bowl Game. Instead, they got paired up with 6-6 Arizona State in the MAACO Las Vegas Bowl. This game was close until the Sun Devils kicked off. Doug Martin returned the opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown and that would be the closest the game would ever get as Boise State went on to win 56-24. The win was quarterback Kellen Moore's 50th, an NCAA record. Boise State finishes the year 12-1 and it just seems like the system should've been able to find a better matchup for them. No disrespect to Arizona State, but they finish the season losers of 6 of 7 and they were clearly overmatched in this one. Moore finishes his college career with a record of 50-3 including wins over Oregon twice, Virginia Tech, Georgia, and a 3-1 record in bowl games. His three losses were by a total of 5 points.

Here's an update of the bowl results by conference:

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The Cardinals won't have Albert Pujols next year, but they will have Carlos Beltran. The 34 year old outfielder signed a two year deal with the World Champs worth $26M. Now Beltran is not going to be able to replace Albert Pujols, but it's a lot closer than you might think. Here's how the two stacked up against one another last season:

As you can see, while Pujols has the bigger home run numbers, their overall slugging percentages are pretty close while Beltran actually got on base more frequently. Additionally, the signing of Beltran will allow Lance Berkman to move back to first base which will upgrade the Cardinals defense in the outfield. Even without Pujols, the Cardinal lineup will still be formidable with Beltran, Berkman, Matt Holliday and rising star and World Series MVP David Freese. Beltran may not run like he used to, but he's still a great pickup and he'll have the Cards right in the thick of things in the NL Central once again.

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Suddenly the Indianapolis Colts can't lose. After 13 straight losses this year, Dan Orlovsky has the Indianapolis Colts on a winning streak. The Colts looked to be on their way to yet another defeat last night against the Texans after Neil Rackers kicked a 31 yard field goal with 1:56 to play putting the Texans up 16-12. But Orlovsky, starting at his own 22, drove the Colts the length of the field capping it off with a 1 yard touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne with 19 seconds to play giving Indy their second win in as many weeks. I've got a lot of respect for what the Colts are doing right now. After starting 0-13 it takes a lot to motivate yourself to step out on the field and continue to play hard, but they've done just that. Ironically it may cost them a shot at the number one overall pick in the draft, but I doubt the players care very much about that. Indy wraps up the season at Jacksonville on New Year's Day.

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