The Weekend Edition

THE WEEKEND EDITION

OUR WEEKEND JIM SEZ COLUMN
IS CHOCK FULL OF MLB AND NFL NEWS & NOTES
AND INCLUDES A TIP-OF-THE-CAP
TO NEW BASEBALL HALL OF FAMERS
BLYLEVEN, ALOMAR & GILLICK

Hey, it's not as if we work for the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce or anything but …

This weekend's Hall of Fame ceremonies in the scenic upstate New York town should be the usual blast as this year's main inductees include long-time star pitcher Bert Blyleven (287 career wins with an array of teams including Minnesota, Pittsburgh and Texas), 12-time All-Star 2B Roberto Alomar (and note a 10-time Gold Glove winner, to boot) and long-time baseball executive Pat Gillick who served as the one-time general manager for the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies.

Okay, so maybe this Class of 2011 doesn't quite have the 'name' punch as the recent Hall of Fame classes that included the likes of Baltimore Orioles icon Cal Ripken, San Diego Padres RF Tony Gwynn and/or last year's class that featured stolen base king Rickey Henderson and legendary Boston OF Jim Rice but this current trio belongs in the Hall of Fame at 25 Main Street in Cooperstown even though it took Blyleven his next-to-last year of eligibility to get in and even though Alomar didn't get in last year as a 'first-ballot' guy but note the former second baseman for the Toronto Blue Jays, Cleveland Indians, Baltimore Orioles and New York Mets (among six teams in all) made it on 523 ballots this year and that marks the third-highest of all time.

So, a hearty hail to this year's MLB Hall of Famers and – in case it mattered to you – Cooperstown also figures to be jumpin' when they play Terry Cashman's 'Talkin' Baseball' song that this year marks its 30th anniversary.

See … even in a weekend that has NFL Lockout junk stamped all over the television screens of America there's still some carefree sports stuff that has a way of old/new sports fans feeling good.

In other here-and-now MLB News & Notes …

The Saturday MLB card includes only one starting pitcher who has double-digit wins this year and – even though folks such as Boston Josh Beckett and St. Louis' Jaime Garcia are slated to go – it's Pittsburgh Pirates RHP Kevin Correia (11-7, 4.04 ERA) who enters this day as the lone scheduled starter with twin-figure wins. Correia – who goes head-to-head against Garcia this evening at PNC Park in Pittsburgh – is part of that wondrous story that's happening in the Steel City this baseball season. The righty – who has struggled a bit in his last three starts while going 1-1 with a bloated 5.74 ERA during this time – probably won't be considered a real-life Cy Young Award candidate this year but don't be shocked if he rights his own recent ship and gets very close to the 20-win mark this season …

Meanwhile, a hurler who gets his 21st start of this 2011 season – Kansas City Royals LHP Jeff Francis – must be asking what's happened to his once-promising career? The former ace of the Colorado Rockies will enter his scheduled Saturday start against the Tampa Bay Rays (a 7:10 p.m. start) with the following rotten-to-the-core numbers: A 3-11 overall record with a 4.62 ERA and how about the fact Francis has allowed 141 hits in 122.2 innings?

True, the Royals – following a cat-quick start to their 2011 season – have fallen apart faster than you can say Amos Otis – but the decline of Francis is one of those under-the-radar stories worth noting to anyone that thought this kid was gonna be special (we admit it!).

Last winter when the Mets were considering some 'cheap options' they elected to go with RHP Chris Young (injured again and out for the year) and LHP Chris Capuano (an 8-game winner while heading into Saturday's game at Florida) instead of Francis and it appears NYM got one right, one wrong when it came to passing over the ineffective Francis.

Extra, extra: Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers release Major-League Baseball Winners each/every day and you can be part of all the action -- just remember to call the toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or go online right here and make sure you're all aboard for a summer filled with all our MLB winners! The calling/check-in times are after 10 a.m. ET on Saturdays and Sundays; anytime after 11 a.m. ET for the weekday Baseball action; and than anytime after 1 p.m. ET for all the weeknight action. Now go ahead and pile up all your summertime Baseball winners!

Editor's Note: Hopefully, the National Football League will inch closer to a resolution with its silly lockout and be reminded that – according to in-the-know-sources – the NFL Preseason schedule is expected to go on as planned although the August 7th Hall of Fame Game between the St. Louis Rams and the Chicago Bears has been cancelled. Folks, we'll keep you posted and so make sure you're all aboard with our early-bird rates for the full college & NFL seasons, as there will be plenty of Side & Totals winners for sure.

NFL NEWS & NOTES

No sense getting into all this NFL Lockout talk – as we've been saying for the past 130 days just let us know when the owners and players finally agree on something and get camps going than we'll sit up and notice – and so let's go round the league a bit and check on some of the important stories once this dopey lockout is settled:

Is there any chance whatsoever that rookie QB Ryan Mallett (Arkansas) will be the second-string signal-caller behind veteran superstar Tom Brady when this season begins for the New England Patriots on Sept. 12th in Miami? No doubt the lockout has severely hurt rookies and maybe none more than this third-round pick of the Pats. Mallett – whose stock dropped badly in the days/hours leading up to 2011 NFL Draft – likely will play third fiddle behind Brady and Brian Hoyer but this upcoming free-agent scramble could see the Patriots bring in veteran blood (note Hoyer's in just his third season) and so Mallett may wind up having a 'redshirt season' of sorts this year …

The Seattle Seahawks wound up getting into last year's NFL Playoffs despite a losing record (see 7-9) and even won an NFC Wild Card Game at home against the then-defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints but getting back to the post-season this year will have its share of potholes.

First off, the Seahawks' schedule starts em off with back-to-back road games in San Francisco – the much-ballyhooed Jim Harbaugh debut as the 49ers head coach – and at Pittsburgh and only the most die-hard Seattle fans believe Pete Carroll's crew will get a split here. Then throw into the mix the fact that Seattle last year on average lost the time-of-possession stat 32:27-to-27:33 – folks, that may not seem like a big differential but if your team's defense is on the field five more minutes a game than the other team's defense it has a wear-down affect and so the Seahawks must get deeper on 'D' plus they need to get greedier with interceptions as last year's crew finished the regular season with just a dozen picks – including five by then-rookie safety Earl Thomas – and so somebody else has to step up here and grab some INTs and keep Seattle's defense off the field …

Finally, scheduling has been a big off-season topic round the league and reports are Indianapolis Colts GM Bill Polian – a frequent cry-baby on such matters – isn't happy that his club is one of nine NFL teams that is playing back-to-back-to-back road games this year as the Colts will go to Cincinnati, New Orleans and Tennessee on consecutive Sundays beginning in Week 6 action (and that includes a Sunday Night tilt in N'Orleans) but yet we don't hear Polian being happy about his club not having to go on the road for a four-week period of time – believe it or not the Colts play three home games and get their bye week from Weeks 9-through-12 and that means never having to leave Indy for the entire month of November.

NOTE: There's more MLB and NFL News/Notes in the next edition of Jim Sez … so don't miss out!
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