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Scuba's NASCAR Pick 3: Week 1 Results

Monday, Feb, 24 2014

Another NASCAR Season is here which means the Pick 3 is back for 2014!  Scuba’s Bar and Grill in Appleton is on board this season challenging you to beat the experts!

Every Friday, on the Home Stretch, Alex Hayden of MRN Radio joins Justin Hull to talk NASCAR.  At the end the conversation, one listener will be chosen to call in and pick 3 drivers for the Sprint Cup Race that weekend.  After that, our expert panel of Alex, Justin and Justin’s Dad will pick their 3 for the race. 

It’s golf style scoring so the lower the scorer, the better.  You get points for whatever position each of your drivers finish.  If you pick the winning driver, we subtract 5-points from your total.  If the listener sweeps the panel, it’s a $25 Gift Card to Scuba’s.  If you beat just one, it’s a $10 Gift Card to Scuba’s. 

Here are the week 1 results:

1st place: My Dad
Matt Kenseth: 6
Kyle Busch: 19
Dale Jr: -5 (winner)
Total Points: 20

2nd place: Chad the Listener
Matt Kenseth: 6
Kyle Busch: 19
Denny Hamlin: 2
Total Points: 27

3rd place: Justin
Brad Keslowski: 3
Jeff Gordon: 4
Kurt Busch: 21
Total Points: 28

4th place: Alex Hayden
Denny Hamlin: 2
Jeff Gordon: 4
Paul Menard: 32
Total Points: 32

Yearly Rankings:
1st – Justin’s Dad: 20
2nd – Listeners: 27
3rd – Justin: 28
4th – Alex: 32
5th - Ben: 46 (took Ben's average from races 2,3 & 4)

Winner Picks:
Justin’s Dad – 1 (Race 1)
Justin, Alex, Listeners – 0

posted by: The Home Stretch with Justin Hull 7 month(s) ago Comment On This Post


WIAA Boy's Basketball Regional Semifinals

Tuesday, Feb, 18 2014

The WIAA released its Boy's Basketball pairings Monday.  Over the last 24-hours, I have scoured the brackets to find the match-ups in North East Wisconsin that are the most intriguing.  Here is a look at my top-5 matchups for the Regional Semifinals which will be played Friday, February 28th at the better seeded school.

5.) #6 Wisconsin Rapids @ #3 Oshkosh North (Division 1, Sectional 1)

This is a match-up teams that would have found themselves with higher seeds had they been in different sectionals.  Frank Shade’s Oshkosh North team has a resume that is impressive with wins over Neenah, De Pere, & Wisconsin Lutheran while taking on Germantown early on this season.  Rapids likely pushed down to 6th because of their conference being down and in a meeting with 7 of 9 teams at meeting from FVA. A Late win over Marshfield didn’t help.  What team has more motivation?

4.) #3 Waupaca @ #2 Hortonville (Division 2, Sectional 1)

Both teams put together solid years in what turned out to be top heavy conferences.  Waupaca definitely trending upward as they were the ultimate spoiler in the EVC with wins over Ripon and Little Chute.  Hortonville is very tested playing in the Bay Conference with Seymour, West De Pere and Shawno.  The two teams met on February 14th with Hortonville notching a double-digit win. 

3.) #5 Appleton North @ #4 Appleton West (Division 1, Sectional 1)

There may not be a team that is trending more upward than Appleton North.  There only losses since December 17th were to Neenah (2), Oshkosh North, Kaukauna, & Appleton West.  In that 2-month stretch is a win over Oshkosh North, which shook up the FVA standings in a big way.  Appleton West was steady throughout the year while overcoming a couple key injuries down the stretch to sit at 3rd in the FVA.  West won both regular season meetings.

2.) #6 Xavier @ #3 West De Pere (Division 2, Sectional 2)

If anyone can find an outright Conference Champion with a seed lower than 4, please let me know.  Xavier (will) pick up an outright Conference Championship in the Eastern Valley but because that league is mostly D3-schools and the Hawks non-conference schedule wasn’t the greatest, they slid down as far as they did.  West De Pere has definitely lived up to the hype this year with 2 of their 3 losses coming to Seymour and Ashwaubenon who sit in the same sectional.  The key for the Hawks will behind the arc.

1.) #5 Kaukauna @ #4 Pulaski (Division 2, Sectional 2)

In most years, Kaukauna would have been in the conversation for a FVA title but Neenah and Oshkosh North were so top heavy, the drop off seemed bigger than it probably was.  Pulaski is in the mix in the FRCC with the likes of Ashwaubenon, Bay Port, & De Pere.  If you can only see one game for the rest of February, this is it.

posted by: The Home Stretch with Justin Hull 7 month(s) ago Comment On This Post


Hump Day List: Most important Brewers in 2014

Wednesday, Feb, 12 2014

Here are the Brewers that I think need to have a big year in order for the team to compete in 2014.

5.) SS Jean Segura – After an all-star start to his Brewer career, the team was kicking the tires on an extension showing just how big he is to the future of the team.  Those talks cooled down as Segura did in the 2nd half.  Who is the real Jean Segura?  Hopefully that comes to light in 2014.  There have been many “flashes in the pan” in the Melvin era in Milwaukee and SS has not been his best position.  A strong year by Segura could settle things down and give the team options with a couple of prospects down the pipeline to bolster other positions.

4.) RP Jim Henderson – The day of the “Closer” in baseball is shrinking.  We are seeing the life span of individuals at the back of the bullpen getting shorter and shorter.  Any long term success that a team can get with a closer now is such a bonus.  If Henderson can close out the year in that spot, it may mean a few more wins than the plethora of teams who play musical closer.

3.) SP Matt Garza – There are two reasons why I put Garza on this list and not Lohse.  The first is that Garza is coming off back-to-back seasons where injuries have cut into his season.  The difference (potentially) between Garza and who would take his spot is significant enough that another injury would be felt.  The second reason is how long he is here.  If Lohse slides, his deal is up after next year making it easier to cut the cord.  If Garza slides, he is in Milwaukee until 2017.  He needs to produce.

2.) OF Ryan Braun – I talked about him a few times on the show the last month as the season draws near, so does the realization that Braun is back and his success will coincide with the Brewers success.  For all the fan talk about trading him, the fact is, you need players like Braun on your roster to compete in today’s league.  It’s not that you have to like/respect him, but the first time he contributes to a win will be a weird feeling for Brewer fans.  Braun doesn’t need to put up his MVP numbers, but he has to be at least 75% of that.  If he tanks, for whatever reason, it will be tough for the team to dig out.

1.) SP Yovani Gallardo – This is the same answer I have had the last couple years.  As Yovani has gone the last few seasons, so has the team.  In 2011, His 3.52 era, 1.215 whip, & 3.51 K/BB ratio were all career highs.  In 2012, his slow start mirrored that of team and his 2nd half spurt coincided with the team’s late push.  2013 was his worse year and the team’s output coincided.  Obviously, Garza and Lohse will be key, but Yo has to be great.

If you want to vote, I put the poll question up on our Home Page.  Thanks!

posted by: The Home Stretch with Justin Hull 7 month(s) ago Comment On This Post


Hump Day List: Best Current QB never to win a Super Bowl

Wednesday, Feb, 5 2014

When debating the impossible topic of “Best QB in the NFL,” the starting point is Super Bowl rings.  Seattle’s Russell Wilson took a big step forward on that list with a victory in Super Bowl 48 over Denver.  I am not going to try to tackle that list at the moment, what I do want to focus on is the list he has moved off of:  “Best QB never to win a Super Bowl currently in the NFL.”

Taking a look at the current list of zero ring signal callers, who is the best?  The criteria/factors here are definitely debatable and will lead to a disagreement as most lists do.  Here is my top 5 list with the following questions on my mind: “who will be the next to win,” “who I would want going into next season” & “who has accomplished the most.”

5.) Cam Newton – Carolina Panthers:  I don’t like Cam Newton the football player.  I had to get that out of the way, more for myself, because it’s hard for me to embrace the reality with him.   He grew up this year…BIG TIME!  I was really impressed with the Cam we saw in 2013 and the Panthers definitely benefited from it.  Cam as a passer continues to impress me and I only think he will get better.  If the Panthers could find him another target to go along with Olson and Steve Smith (or to eventually replace Smith), Newton could easily rise on this list.

4.) Tony Romo – Dallas Cowboys:  Romo is a tough QB to explain.  As odd as it sounds, Romo has the 5th highest QB rating in history trailing only Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Steve Young and Phillip Rivers.  Romo’s (and Rivers) appearance on that list almost instantaneously makes people throw away the stat.  Romo has definitely had his share of failures in the NFL.  But at the same time, a lot of the Cowboys failures/downfalls could get farmed out to other areas of the team.  I think Romo could be a Super Bowl QB, I am not sure that Dallas can be a Super Bowl team.  With him at the helm, your floor is right around .500.  If things go right, it could definitely rise.

3.) Phillip Rivers – San Diego Chargers:  Much like Romo, River’s time is running out.  2013 was a big step in the right direction for Rivers and the Chargers.  Once on the brink of the “top level,” Rivers has been left in the dust by fellow 2004 draft class members Ben Roethlistberger and Eli Manning who each won a pair of Lombardi Trophies.  I don’t foresee him getting by Brady, Peyton Manning, or Andrew Luck in a very top heavy AFC anytime soon, but maybe, if the stars align, he will get a shot at a title.  Like Romo, the floor in San Diego is around .500 but he gives them a shot.

2.) Matt Ryan – Atlanta Falcons:  Despite the Falcons horrendous 2013, Ryan is still an easy pick as a top 10 overall QB in the league for me.  Obviously, he is helped by the weapons he has in White and Jones.  Ryan has had comeback ability but does hold on to the distinction as worse playoff record (1-4) among QBs to have at least one playoff win.  I am not convinced Ryan will ever get over the hump but I am convinced that he will be playing in the league for years to come.  That gives him a chance.  I would be fine if he was my starter in 2014.

1.) Andrew Luck – Indianapolis Colts:  While Luck is still raw in terms of what he has accomplished in this league; there is no debating that he has the elite qualities that could eventually lead him into the conversation for best QB in the game.  He is a leader and playmaker, something that a QB needs in order to be successful.  Despite getting rocked by New England in the Divisional Round, my memory of him this year will be the comeback verse the Chiefs in the Wild Card Round.  Out of this list and the rest of the QBs with zero rings, I believe he is next AND I would take him as my starter in 2014, even up against the guys with rings!

So who missed out?  Here they are in no particular order:

- Jay Cutler – Talent wise, he has it.  Can Trestman harness his head?
- Andy Dalton – Dalton is good.  Is good going to be enough?
- Nick Foles – I love what I saw from him in 2013.  Want to see more in 2014.
- Colin Kaepernick – Russell won, Kaepernick didn’t.  Need to see more. 
- Matthew Stafford – Going down the Romo/Cutler/Rivers path FAST!

Who are your top 5?

posted by: The Home Stretch with Justin Hull 7 month(s) ago Comment On This Post


Stop focusing on free agency! Seattle beat everyone in the draft!

Monday, Feb, 3 2014

With the Seattle Seahawks hoisting the Lombardi Trophy after a dominant 43-8 victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 48, Packers fans have already taken it upon themselves to point out what Seattle did that Green Bay didn’t. 

It happens every year in the NFL; the Super Bowl Champ goes on the pedestal and that is the “new plan” to a Championship.  It happened last year with the Ravens, the year before with the Giants, and (yes Packer fans) Green Bay after they won it in Dallas.  Remember the Falcons trading their entire draft to get Julio Jones???

The main theme this year being tossed out by Packer fans will be Seattle’s willingness to go after free agents.  Their GM is John Schneider, who worked under Ted Thompson in Green Bay, but appears to have a different approach.  In his 4th year, Schneider took the Seahawks to one of the bottom teams in the league to the pinnacle. It feels like Packer fans think this is all because of his willingness to sign free agents and now Green Bay must do the same!

It is true; Schneider did bust out the pocketbook on a strong group players.  In fact, on the Super Bowl Roster, here is the list in no particular order with trades:

- QB Tarvaris Jackson (2013 FA)
- RB Marshawn Lynch (2010 trade)
- FB Michael Robinson (2010 FA)
- WR Percy Harvin (2013 trade)
- TE Zach Miller (2011 FA)
- OL Paul McQuistan (2011 FA)
- OL Breno Giacomini (2011 FA)
- DL Chris Clemans (2010 FA)
- DL Michael Bennett (2013 FA)
- DL Cliff Avrill (2013 FA)
- DL Clinton McDonald (2013 FA)
- DL Tony McDaniel (2013 FA)
- LB O’Brien Schofield (2013 FA)
- LB Heath Farwell (2012 FA)
- S Chris Maragos (2011 FA)

Impressive list, I can’t lie about that.  By no means am I saying the list of players on the 2010 Packers who were free agents/trades is comparable, but, somehow, it is forgotten that Thompson actually did go out and do that: Charles Woodson, Ryan Pickett, Howard Green, Charlie Peprah, Dimitri Nance, Tom Crabtree, Erik Walden, Diyral Briggs, and Matt Wilhelm.  Brandon Chillar, Derrick Martin, and Anthony Smith were also brought in but ended up on IR. 

The Packers situation has definitely changed in the last few years.  When the Packers won the Super Bowl, Aaron Rodgers was in the bottom half of the league in QB cap figures, Clay Matthews was yet to be paid, and a majority of their key players were on rookie deals. This allowed the Packers to be a little more flexible.  I see that being similar to where Seattle is.  When Schneider came in, it was a roster overhaul so out of necessity he brought in free agents.  Thompson did that, too.

This brings me to my big point.  Drafting and developing.  This is where Seattle has BLOWN Green Bay (at their own game) out of the water since Schneider left.  Take a look at his 2010-2012 drafts. I am leaving 2013 out because impact is too early to see: 

- 2010: OT Russell Okung (1), S Earl Thomas (1), WR Golden Tate (2), CB Walter Thurmond (4), S Kam Chancellor (5)
- 2011: OT James Carpenter (1), LB K.J Wright (4), CB Richard Sherman (5), DB Byron Maxwell (6), OLB Malcom Smith (7)
- 2012: DE Bruce Irvin (1), LB Bobby Wagner (2), QB Russell Wilson (3), RB Robert Turbin (4), Jeremy Lane (6)

Let’s take a look at the Packers drafts over those years and who is on the roster:

- 2010: OT Bryan Bulaga (1), DL Mike Neal (2), S Morgan Burnett (3), TE Andrew Quarless (5), OT Marshall Newhouse (5), RB James Starks (6), DE C.J Wilson (7)
- 2011: OT Derek Sherrod (1), WR Randall Cobb (2), CB Davon House (4)
- 2012: LB Nick Perry (1), DL Jerel Worthy (2), CB Casey Hayward (2), DL Mike Daniels

Startling, isn’t it?  Suddenly the free agent list looks pedestrian..

Since the Super Bowl Championship in Green Bay, key players like James Jones, Jordy Nelson, Tramon Williams, Josh Sitton, Morgan Burnett, Brad Jones, Jermichael Finley and others received extensions from their rookie deals.  Not that all of those moves were great, but they were made and thu tied up a lot of money.  Seattle will be going through that soon (especially with Wilson and Sherman).  In that time, the Packers have (by financial necessity more than willingness in my opinion) relied on the “draft and develop” mentality that Thompson is known for.  It hasn’t worked and that is the difference.

So in this offseason of trying to figure how the Packers can become the Seahawks, don’t lose site of the bigger issue.  It’s not the Packers willingness (or lack thereof) to spend in Free Agency, it’s the draft.  The Packers did better in 2013 (Lacy, Bakhtiari, & Hyde were all great gets) but they need to continue that trend in order to get back to the top of the NFC.  While a majority of people will be looking to March to see what the team does, I will be more interested in May.  If they continue to miss in the draft and guys don’t defelop, that will keep this team from getting back on top more than a token free agent or two.

posted by: The Home Stretch with Justin Hull 8 month(s) ago Comment On This Post


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