Another year gone, and what have I done?
A year ago, I thought about what could have been had the Patriots not put their boot on the Titans’ throat in Week 17. This year, the Titans were two wins better. The defense went from a serious liability to a major strength. While Vince Young’s yards per attempt, completion percentage, and passer rating went up, the year was considered a major sophomore slump. Unlike in 2006, the 2007 Titans tended to make defensive stands at the end of games as opposed to the offense performing miracle comebacks. The only real comeback was in the season finale, when Kerry Collins led the team to three consecutive field goal drives. Naturally, the only offensive player from the Titans to make the Pro Bowl was Rob Bironas.
This offseason, two things have to happen. Albert Haynesworth needs the long-term contract and some serious work on the hamstrings. The Titans have to decide what to do with Pacman Jones, before the league figures out whether to end his suspension. If Jones leaves the team desperately needs to draft or sign a playmaker to return kicks. Help at wide receiver would be huge as well. I think Chris Brown is gone. LenDale White and Chris Henry might be a pretty solid one-two punch at RB. I’m guessing that Antwan Odom will get an extension and Travis LaBoy, a situational rusher at best, will go. If Chris Hope’s neck injury is career-ending, a new strong safety to line up next to Michael Griffin will be a priority. Too many Charger receivers were left uncovered in that Wild Card game.
The White Sox were the Shite Sox. They battled with the Royals for fourth place in the A.L. Central. A year after winning 90 games, they lost 90. Somehow the team is 6th in MLB payroll. This reflects offseason shopping, including Scott Linebrink and Octavio Dotel. Linebrink has never pitched in the AL and Dotel has been injury-prone. I guess something had to be done with the hideous bullpen from last year. Any time a team hits .246 and has a 4.77 ERA, 90 losses is kind of a high-water mark.
The Orlando Cabrera for Jon Garland trade was interesting. Garland’s an average starting pitcher who doesn’t strike anyone out. Javier Vazquez is the only starting pitcher who makes them swing and miss. The trade of Garland means that John Danks and Gavin Floyd are rotation-bound. The Nick Swisher trade eviscerated the minor league system, typically one of the worst systems in the majors. There really isn’t a center fielder, and the team has too many outfielders along with the Joe Crede/Josh Fields logjam at third base. I don’t expect much.
I won two fantasy titles this year. Technically I was in three baseball leagues and four football leagues. I think I’m out of the baseball dynasty business. It’s fun but too hard to keep track. The AUBL, my long-running Yahoo baseball league, is just intensive enough with daily roster updates to keep my attention during the dark time, aka when football is on the bench. I followed up my first non-playoff campaign with a wire-to-wire first-place finish. I ended up winning the title on a Nick Swisher RBI in the last inning of the last game of the season. It’s the second time that the AUBL has been won on a tiebreaker.
Despite trading away LaDainian Tomlison, I won my Zealots 17 league. The steady leadership of Peyton Manning helped a lot. Somehow I overcame trading for both Kevin Jones and Julius Jones in the first year of the league. Picking up Manning, LenDale White, and even Chester Taylor as a fill-in helped. I got rid of Adrian Wilson and picked up Oshiomogho Atogwe, who finished fifth in DB scoring. Patrick Willis and Dwayne Bowe were big helps as second-round rookie picks. Chris Henry and Robert Meachem, not so much. I don’t have any of my first seven picks from the initial draft. It sure is about trading and rookie picks, and oh yeah, luck.
A couple of my initial draft doozies: Correll Buckhalter, Steve McNair, and Justin McCareins in the 6th round. Isaac Bruce has been a solid player, but my steal was Reggie Wayne in the 10th. I think he was in his third year.
Remaining players from initial draft: Isaac Bruce (8), Derrick Brooks (9), Reggie Wayne (10), Dallas Clark (12), Jake Delhomme (14), Ken Hamlin (17), Troy Polamalu (24), Lance Briggs (34), Jeff Reed (38), Dewayne White (45), Kawika Mitchell (49).
Maybe this is my year in Zealots 34 since I am 34. I lost two games by less than a point and finished 6-7. Picking up Tomy Romo was my big free agent move. I traded Larry Johnson for a package that included Willis McGahee, Jerious Norwood, and Chris Chambers. That worked out better than expected. LJ will rebound next year. I see that from my initial draft in 2005 I only have 11 players left, and some of them will be free agent casualties this year. With initial rookie draft picks like Eric Shelton and Andrew Walter, it’s surprising that I made a title run last year. I’m in a bad place with my running backs. Marion Barber might be even better, but other than that I have Warrick Dunn/Jerious Norwood and Shaun Alexander. That and DL are my weak links.
So that’s the year in real and fantasy sports. I’d call it a successful year. Now it’s time for me to show my age and get in a nap before the evening’s activities.