I pulled the same score this week as I did last week but still not able to have an ultra week of picks so I try again. Lots of compelling games so let's take a look.
Last Week: 9-5
NYJ at BUF: Bills- In my opinion the Bills are a team that is for real, they are just not really that great..yet. They should bounce back at home against the Jets who have been shaky against lowly competition the last few weeks.
DET at CHI: Bears- The Lions' magical mystery tour rolls on into Chicago this week and it should be a hard days night as the Detroit fans gently weep.
JAC at CIN: Jaguars- Not to be outdone by the Lions, the Bengals are 0-8 to Detroit's 0-7 and unless Jacksonville has comepletely fallen apart, it will be 0-9.
BAL at CLE: Ravens- It's amazing with all the venom that is spewed toward Romeo Crennel the Browns are still only one game under .500. I forsee the Ravens defense continuing to play well while it looks as if the offense might be gaining some momentum.
TB at KC: Bucs- After a tough loss at Dallas this should be a good recovery game for Tampa, but as the Jets showed last week, you still need to execute.
HOU at MIN: Texans- These appear to be two teams passing each other in the elevator as Houston goes up and the Vikings go down. Kubiak finally has them playing according to his gameplan, now it's time to see if they can do it on the road.
ARI at STL: Cardinals- Arizona might have lost last week but they showed they were a different team than in years past. Warner will get the primetime receivers he ahs the ball and James/Hightower in the backfield has been a great combo. Here is the Cards' chance to put distance between them and the rest of the NFC West.
GB at TEN: Titans- I feel very insecure in picking Tennessee even though I think they should win. The Titans are now on everyone's radar after beating the Colts Monday night and now the only team with a perfect record will now feel the media blitz as they continue winning. It's that situation where a team that isn't used to being in the spotlight all by its lonesome plays the no respect card, but then when all eyes are on them, they very well may wilt under the pressure. All that being said, as long as they do not commit turnovers, they should come out on top.
MIA at DEN: Dolphins- I don't care what anyone says, nobody has a clue who is going to win this game, it is a complete toss up. The Broncos have been in a downward spiral and it is going to take more than Cutler's bionic arm to get them out.
DAL at NYG: Giants- New York gets extremely lucky facing Dallas in their current condition. Not that the Giants couldnt stand toe to toe with them if they ahd their full line-up but it should be too much Giants in the end. Hey Brad Johnson, Mr. Tuck would like a word with you.
ATL at OAK: Falcons- I really wish I could have seen what the Falcons and Matt Ryan would have done if the refs didn't blow that call in the 4th quarter last week. You wonder how they missed it when you see the replay of the player not coming close to touching the punt with Atlanta down 7. This is a bad trap game for the Falcons so we'll see how Ryan handles his first trip to the black hole (stop giggling).
PHI at SEA: Eagles- I hope Seahawk fans enjoyed that win last week against the 49ers, you might not see another one for awhile.
NE at IND: Colts- With all that has happened this game seemingly has lost its luster but now it turns out it jsut has different implications than we thought. While the Patriots are wrestling with the Bills for control of the AFC East, the Colts are fighting for their playoff life.
PIT at WSH: Redskins- Popular belief has the Steelers as the one of the top 2 or 3 teams of the AFC, but with the pounding they have taken and will take, the Ravens will be right on their heels throughout and in a clash of two huge fan bases, the crowd should be plenty riled up on Monday night.
The Clue factoid this week takes a look at Mrs. Peacock, played by Eileen Brennan. In the movie she is a senator's wife, which again since I was young had no idea what that meant, but now, you can see how easy it is to believe that her and her husband were taking money from lobbyists. Her imdb listing has more credits than I can count, but the one that stuck out to me was the role of Billie in The Sting. This was one of my favorite movies of all time as well and having recently lost Paul Newman, it seems nice to tie that movie in.
Friday, October 31
Not the first to use the G,B,&U, but with most coverage centering on the negative it's important to not lose sight of the positives. A slow start for the Cats was expected, but there were some encouraging signs for the season ahead.
Adam Morrison was fun
ny to watch. He's moving well and shot well at 4-9, despite going 0-2 behind the arc. His defense remains subpar, but the effort was there.
Emeka struggled scoring, but he rebounded well, having a game high 12, and challenged shots at the rim all night.
The team shot well from the free throw line, connecting on 26 of 31 from the stripe. 83.9% is more than a 10% increase from last year.
The team's shooting continues to leave much to be desired (33.8%). Raymond Felton was just 1-10, but the major disappointment remains from the 4 and 5 positions. Sean May and Mek combined for just nine points, with Nazr Mohammad contributing just 4 off the bench. The team has to get more high percentage points from these guys.
D.J. Augustin got off to an unspectacular start, having only two assists against four turnovers. Once again he was unable to connect from long range, going 0-3.
Matt Carroll still has not found his place in the rotation. He played 13 minutes, missing 2 shots, and 2 assists were his only stats.
The Cavs had 22 fast break points, a total that will be insurmountable in any game for the Bobcats this season. The Bobcats don't have enough scoring to allow that many free points to any opponent. The Cavs also had more points off turnovers, points in the paint, and second chance points.
Alexis Ajinca...'s attempted dunk. Fellow rookie JJ Hickson met him on the way to hoop and unceremoniously denied the Awful Tower (I kid, I kid). It was Hickson's second big play of the game, as he also delivered this...
Sean May played only 15 minutes. As one of the few talented scorers on the roster, coach Larry Brown needs him on the floor. Until May can drop the weight he'll be known as "Bowser," because he's big, slow, can hurt if he get his hands on
you the ball, but is easily evaded. His lack of fitness also forced Coach Brown to play Gerald Wallace at the PF position, and that's never a good thing.
A list of the top ten bad weather games. I probably would exclude the Bug game because it was not necessarily a weather incident, although it was the weather that spawned the influx of insects as opposed to Stephen King's The Myst in which it was a government opened portal to another dimension that brought on the bugs. I may have inserted the Tuck Bowl in there for that one, but a great list nevertheless. [The Love of Sports]
The Bobcats dropped their opener 96-79 to the Cavaliers on the road. D.J. Augustin had 12 points, 2 assists (Jason Richardson had 4), and 4 turnovers in his NBA debut. The Bob's 20th pick Alexis Ajinca tallied 3 minutes and had 0 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steals, and one highlight rejection...by fellow rookie J.J. Hickson on him. Grats Alexis, you made Sportcenter's top plays in your first game! Larry Brown was actually off the bench coaching during the game and the Bobcats did cut the deficit to single digits after trailing 50-33 at the half but the Cavs showed who the more polished team was, oh and they have that Lebron guy, he's pretty good.
On the ice the Tampa Bay Lightning made their statement after we overlooked their team by beating the Sabres 5-2 in Buffalo. Steven Stamkos, whose name reminds me of this guy, had his first two career goals in the game. The Sabres have given up 10 goals in their last two games which have both been losses. Olaf Kolzig was the winning goalie...Olaf Kolzig! Not a good night for the ASD family of teams.
Thursday, October 30
No, not Bret Saberhagen. Tonight our newly beloved Buffalo Sabres host the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first official Sabre game as the official NHL team of ASD. The 6-1-2 Sabres should get the victory over the Ning dynasty and prove why they were chosen over the Lightning, who were an ASD finalist.
We are a mere two days away from the one of the msot anticipated college football games of the season. However instead of focusing on the actual match-up, the hype machine that is ESPN and others in the media are choosing only to focus on what transpired in the first quarter of last year's 42-30 Georgia victory. In case you don't know what I'm talking about, you can watch the video here. But there is more to this game than Florida exacting revenge and they better realize it they will lose the game and the SEC East title.
In an unsurprising, reverse phsycology move, Florida coach Urban Meyer put the kibosh on any of his players making statements regarding the unsportsmanlike penalty of a year ago. Yet, somehow, players made statements to the press about the incident weeks in advance that have been circulating to every media outlet available. It has even exhaustibly been mentioned that in his "authorized" biography Meyer was upset about what Georgia did and will exact "revenge" for it. Now far be it from me to question pope Urban, but I think this shows a slight problem he has with losing. It is a good problem to have if you are a big-time college coach like Urban is; he simply hates to lose and does not react well when he does. Case in point was Florida's one loss this year, where Meyer gave a quick handshake to Houston Nut after Ole Miss pulled off the upset (2:42 for that in the video).
This was after Miami coach Randy Shannon received heat in Gainsville for not giving Meyer a "proper" handshake following Miami's 26-3 loss in the second week of the season. It seems turnabout may not be fair play in the Gators' minds. What upset Shannon and Miami was the attempt of putting another touchdown on the board with only a minute remaining and Florida already winning 23-3. Strange how Meyer threw for the endzone and even kicked a field goal to cover the spread when kneeling on the ball would have ended the game after a convincing win. Now some would describe that as a classless move and clearly Randy Shannon thought so. Meyer, like his other national championship predecessor Steve Spurrier, enjoys tallying the scoreboard high and even throwing a few trick plays in even when the game is in hand and in this day and age of the BCS and polls ruling who makes the big bowls, one could argue there is nothing wrong with piling it on.
It is not the act of rushing the field by all the Georgia players which won them the game, it was the ability of Knowshon Moreno and Matthew Stafford to move the ball against the young Gators' defense and the ability of the Bulldog defense to make some key stops. The story will be the same for this year's game. Both teams are coming off impressive wins; Florida pounded Kentucky 63-5 and Georgia went into Baton Rouge and beat LSU 52-38. The Florida offense has more playmaking ability with Tebow's ability to rush, the backfield running of Jeffrey Demps and Chris Rainey, and the lightning speed of Percy Harvin. Georgia's attack is much more centered around one player, but the one player in this case happens to be Moreno. Knowshon has rushed for 925 yards and 12 TDs so far this year. Tebow has been solid this year, but has not been featured as much in the offense which was the plan. Stafford has received mixed reviews but has shown at times he can make the big throws as he has completed over 61% of his passes, thrown for 1946 yards and 12 TDs. A sub-par performance will not get it done for UGA, Stafford cannot even be mediocre for the Bulldogs to triumph on Saturday. The Florida defense has been much tougher this year, giving up only just under 12 points a game. Charlie Strong and the Gator defense will no doubt have a plan in place to slow Knowshon down.
The "experts" seem to be leaning toward Florida in this one and they do have the more dynamic offense, stronger momentum, and the revenge factor if you want to call it that. I do think Georgia has to play with less errors to win than Florida in order to win and they must be successful with Knowshon and keep the Florida offense off the field. Either way it should be a great contest and the strategic battle of the coaches on the field should excel any hurt feelings off it. ESPN even went so far as to ask if there was fear in Mark Richt's voice. That seems absurd to me of a sports network trying to discern if there is fear in a coach's voice while he is simply giving a press conference. The focus has been too much on what happened last year and not on what the teams need to do on the field this year. The egde in the game goes to Florida but if they are too obsessed with getting even on the sidelines, they will lose on the field.
One number from each game that stuck out above all others. Apologies for the late post, I got caught up in all the Bobcats buzz.
Buccaneers v. Cowboys – 59 – yards for the longest drive of the game. Three of the six scoring drives in the game started in the opponents’ territory. First game of the season for both teams that they didn’t break 300 yards in total offense (Bucs 262, Cowboys 172). For the Cowboys, it was the lowest total offense in a win since 1997 (Bears, wk 5).
Redskins v. Lions – 7 – Average passer rating for the seven opposing QBs against the Lions this season: 119. Jason Campbell becomes the 6th QB this season to set a career high passer rating against the Lions. The one that didn’t, Gus Frerotte, still had a season high. The Redskins rushed for over 100 yards for the seventh straight week (week 1 v. Giants: 84).
Bills v. Dolphins – 4 – In both of the Bills losses this season, they’ve had 4 turnovers and failed to score in the 4th quarter. In three of their five wins, the Bills have come from behind in the 4th. Buffalo had their best game on the ground, rushing for 199 yards, but they had their worst in pass defense, giving up over 300 yards for the first time this season. The last four drives for the Bills resulted in: INT, Fumble, Safety, Fumble.
Rams v. Patriots – 9 – The stats are similar. Only ten yards difference in total yards, about a minute difference in TOP, the Rams actually won the turnover battle, but St. Louis had 9 penalties for 63 yards. The Patriots had zero penalties. Three times the Rams were in or on the cusp of FG range, but took a penalty to push them out.
Chiefs v. Jets – 3 – Had it not been for 3 Brett Favre INTs, the Jets would have coasted through this game. For the 3rd straight week Favre had more INTs than TDs, finishing one of the easiest 3 game stretches (CIN, OAK, KC) 2-1, and making each game closer than they should have been. Of the 3 this week, two turned into TDs for KC.
Falcons v. Eagles – 2 – Matt Ryan had 2 INTs after having 1 total in the last four weeks. Brian Westbrook has missed 2 games this season, and finally looked healthy, rushing for a career-high 167 yards and recording his first multi-TD game since Philly’s week 2 loss to the Cowboys. After averaging 180 yards rushing through the first five games, Atlanta was held to less than 80 for the 2nd straight game.
Cardinals v. Panthers – T(W)O – It was an early Jake Delhomme fumble that set up the Cardinals first TD and a late Kurt Warner INT that helped seal the game for the Panthers. This game was only the 2nd time this season the Panthers have converted more than 50% of their 3rd down conversions (KC), and for the second straight week Carolina had only 3 penalties (now 4th in the league at 57, but 10th in penalty yards at 377). Charles Johnson had 2 sacks for the Panthers, the final coming to force a 3rd and 26 on the Cardinals final drive.
Chargers v. Saints – 8 – Hour difference from San Diego to London. West coast teams are now 0-11 when coming to the east coast and now they’re 0-1 when crossing the Atlantic.
Raiders v. Ravens - 17 - 2nd Quarter points for the Ravens, on three straight drives. The Ravens scored 16 points on drives of fewer than 17 yards. Twice they got the ball in the radzone which they converted for TDs and a safety.
Bengals v. Texans - 11 - Ryan Fitzpatrick's number. With Carson Palmer shutting it down, the QB responsibilities have fallen to Fitzpatrick, who through four games has not thrown for more than 165 yards in any one game. The longest pass during this time: 22 yards. In this game, it was Fitzpatrick's 3 TOs (2 INT/1 Fumb) against zero for the Texans that was the primary difference.
Browns v. Jaguars – 29 – Rush yards for Maurice Jones-Drew (24 for Fred Taylor). It’s been feast or famine all year for the Jags rushing game and this was no different. In two of their three wins, they’ve had a 100-yard rusher. In their four losses, the rushing average for the top RB: 28.75 yards.
Giants v. Steelers – 0 – TDs on five trips into the red zone for the Giants until the 4th quarter when they finally broke through with a K. Boss two-yard touchdown. 0 is also the number of Steelers on the roster that could long snap after Greg Warren tore his ACL, leading to a safety and the game-winning drive.
Seahawks v. 49ers – 11 – Interceptions for J.T. O’Sullivan in the six 49er losses this season. He has 0 in their two victories. It was an O’Sullivan Pick-6 in the last minute of the first half that extended Seattle’s lead to 20-3.
Colts v. Titans - 2 - straight games with 2 interceptions for Peyton Manning, both losses. The first was inconsequential, but the second came with just under four minutes left in the game, and immediately led to Chris Johnson TD which effectively ended the game.
Bud Selig and Fox can try all they want to dampen the national past time, but baseball is not lousy and is also resilient. Credit goes to the Phillies for ending a long stretch of heartache for a city and an organization. It was also great to ehar Harry Kalas give the call of the final out. Despite the bad judgment in game starting times, letting the players continue playing in muck, the shaky umpire calls, and the ear-splitting commentary of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, whenever a team captures the crown it is a special moment. The 2008 Phillies will not be remembered for being the greatest of teams or winning the most exciting series, but it will be there on the trophy for years to come. Congrats to the Phillies and their fans, maybe now they can be quiet about being starved for a title.
The Love of Sports
Wednesday, October 29
Earlier this week when I beseeched my fellow Charlotteans to embrace our Bobcats, I had no idea how quickly my points would prove out.
On Saturday, the Bobcats held their second annual My Hero Gala. The party served as a fundraiser for the Presbyterian Hospital Community Care Cruiser, a mobile health clinic that provides comprehensive primary and preventive medical care to un- and underinsured youth. The event was emceed by ESPN's Linda Cohn, Director of Player Development Dell Curry as well as ALL of the players and coaches were in attendance. There were two members of the Bobcats organization conspicuously absent...
Bob Johnson, "was called away at the last minute for undisclosed reasons." MJ was just a no show. I headed over to the Bobcats website, and while I did find information about Adam Morrison's new haircut, there was no mention of the gala. Under Community Relations it's listed as an upcoming event, and this .pdf file has information about the program. This .pdf outlines the cost of attending, but the contact listed is no longer with the organization. Compare this coverage with last year's photo gallery and write-up. The story outlines a tremendous relationship between the team and the hospital.
The effects of the budget and job cuts for the Bobcats are becoming clear. Even on nights when the players and coaches show up to do raise money for the community, there is no one to chronicle the event or to make the public aware. The lone mention in the local newspaper was by the pop culture writer. Based on the brochure Deloitte shelled out $25,000 to be the "presenting partner," but got no mention on the team's website or the local newspaper for their efforts. It's not hard to wonder why businesses in the area aren't rushing to partner with this team.
Shortly after being awarded the new Charlotte franchise, Bob Johnson was asked about how to build a "good standing relationship with the fans." He responded, "...We have to demonstrate to the citizens of Charlotte that we are committed to the community..." It's clear that several people in the organization are, but as for the two most prominent owners, they're not.
Congratulations, a thank you and a tip of the cap are in order for education advocate Sue Gorman, healthcare provider and medical missionary Dr. Ophelia Garmon-Brown and youth mentor Dell Curry, who all received My Hero Gala Awards in honor of their contributions to the Charlotte community.
News Release from Presbyterian Hospital about the event.
…I learned by playing video games. With our recent adoption of the Crossed Shwords, it’s time to revisit all of the knowledge I’ve gleaned from years of my days of playing hockey on the old school Nintendo, Sega, etc.
10. People talk about the importance of the first five and last five minutes of a period, but hands down the first minute of each is most important. If the team can’t score after getting a Power Drink in the locker room, they’re not cut out for the NHL. (Hit the Ice)
9. Brett Hull is an egotist and no one likes him. Only he is allowed to be identified by name, everyone else is only a number. The fans didn’t approve and I suspect that’s why no one showed up, and Al Michaels is clearly mailing it in.
8. In the event of a hat trick (and the other team scoring no goals), the fans will throw caps, but also the net will catch on fire and need to be replaced. If the goal scorer’s disfigured there’s also a chance the net will explode into a “gory mess.” (NHL Open Ice/Mutant League Hockey)
7. If you give the puck to the skinny guy no one can catch him and you can hold the puck for the entire period. This game also taught me about the force field that prevented goalies from leaving the
crease box, and that in all fights all players get involved and at the end teammates fight each other. (Ice Hockey)
6. All arenas play Hava Nagila constantly. (NHL 95)
5. Goalies are Bitches. They won’t fight, but they’ll knock down any player that touches them. If you score on them, you can count on a hissy fit. They haven’t figured out how to protect against the wrap around or top shelf, glove-side, but if you score on them a lot they get really mad and start playing harder. (All)
4. Players quit bleeding after 1993. With all of the new safety equipment in hockey, not a single drop has been spilled in 15 years. A tremendous streak to say the least. (NHLPA 93)
3. In the event of a fight, only the loser goes to the penalty box (being drug off by the ref) and the winner is rewarded with the puck. When fighting, never attempt an uppercut. Stick with the quick jabs until you knock out the other guy. (Blades of Steel)
2. Chris Chelios is old, but good. He’s been in every hockey game, ever. Even Mutant League hockey has Smelios. The man has to be in more games than any character, including Mario. (All)
1. Icing and offsides can be turned off. (NHL 95 and others)
Honorable Mention: Whoever has the license plate abcd1234 your lights are still on! Every game for 18 years you’ve forgotten…
ESPN's Sports Guy, Bill Simmons, used his forum to publicly lampoon Charlotte's NBA team.
He referred to Mek's contract as "The Worst in the League." Is Mek overpaid? Slightly, but he's one of the faces of the franchise and with the prior regime's tendency to not re-sign the team's best players, it was important for the Bobcats to re-sign the team's first major free agent. Rashard Lewis will be making almost $10 million per year more than Mek for the entire duration, and he's nowhere near that much more of a player.
Simmons would continue, "With Isiah finally gone from the Knicks, Charlotte will assume the mantle as the most frustrated franchise in the NBA." Full Story<
He contends that Charlotte has no potential stars or franchise players. Jason Richardson is not in the upper echelon of stars, but there are only a handful of these players and the rest of the teams that think they have one are lying to themselves. Most teams have at best a 2nd tier star (not an insult, just not potential HOFers) and JRich fits in that category. People nationally have forgotten about him, but this year should serve to remind them.
The other NBA experts from ESPN weighed in with only one (John Hollinger) of the ten predicting the team will make the playoffs. Two had them finishing dead last in the east. In their blurbs, nine chose to focus on Larry Brown instead of the players on the floor and virtually all forgot that Brown coached other places before New York. Ric Bucher's was of particular note, "The damage of the New York debacle on Larry Brown's reputation is reflected in the Bobcats already complaining about his system. Never seen that happen to him this quickly before. That is usually followed by Larry demanding new players, and it's usually downhill from there." Already complaining? That's the first I've heard of it. Full Story
Late Night with Roy was held in Chapel Hill on Friday and the Dookies blue envy is already in mid-season swing. This from The Duke Chronicle:
"After the whole team came out dressed in Carolina blue formalwear and did a number to Sammy Davis Jr.'s "Hello Detroit" (the home of this year's Final Four), after watching senior guard Bobby Frasor star in six filmed sketches lampooning his Hall of Fame coach, after seeing the custom T-shirts with Roy's face blown up huge and donning sunglasses that said "Soulja Roy," I felt this gnawing, longing feeling.
I wanted to be able to celebrate Duke basketball like this. Why should Tar Heel fans have all the fun?"
"Late Night with Roy made me feel as if I wanted to be a Tar Heel, I can't even imagine what recruits must have thought." Full Article
Much thanks to Jr. Swole, or as he's called on the mean courts of the local YMCA, Hogg. He provided the pic (mediocre as it is) and conceptualized The Soulja Roy idea for the festivities.
Tuesday, October 28
Maybe it is last minute and there are certainly plenty of longer previews out there, so like my 7th grade science fair project, the research is solid, but the presentation could have been more in-depth. So without further ado and minus the tri-fold, here are my NBA predictions for the 2008-2009 NBA season.
Greg Oden will not be the Rookie of the Year. It's hard enough to make the transition from 30+ games to 70+, but add in a year off do to injury and it'll be too much for the big man to overcome. His chances seem even slimmer when you consider the "bounties" teams are putting on his head. The easy choice for ROY is Michael Beasley who most agree will average high teens and eight. Kevin Love and Derrick Rose are the two other favorites, but can Love's back hold up and will the demands of playing PG be too much for Rose? I'll take Eric Gordon (to avoid taking the obvious choice Beasley).
5 of the top 25 salaries could be on the move. Allen Iverson and Vince Carter are both likely candidates to be on the move. Shawn Marion and Mike Bibby could also be on the move if either of their teams don't live up to expectations. Finally, if the Knicks are serious about getting LeBron they need to move Zach Randolph. Bonus possibility: Lamar Odom.
Now onto the playoff predictions...
* = Playoff Team
*1. Boston Celtics - Don't question hunger, question Doc, Danny, and their ability to stay healthy.
*2. Philadelphia 76ers - Brand takes Shareef's mantle for PF amassing big numbers that don't matter. The newest incarnation of the late 80's Cavs, this team will not make the jump with their current roster.
3. Toronto Raptors - Biggest problem for the Raps: the season is 82 games long. A lot of people are high on them, but their roster is young and largely unproven. Putting them 3rd is assuming a healthy team, but injuries will cost them at least one seed in the playoffs.
4. New York Knicks - A dark horse for a playoff spot, their position will be determined based on their goal. If they want to make the playoffs they can, if they want to make a play for the King, they're likely to trade Randolph and Lee and will be home for the playoffs again.
5. New Jersey Nets - Cautious Optimism. The team has a lot of quality young pieces, but if they're to do anything this season, it will require Vince Carter to step up as the elder statesman and become a leader. My head nearly exploded typing that, so look for Vince to move and surprise the team will play better when it happens.
*1. Cleveland Cavaliers - Acquiring Mo Williams will prove invaluable, as well as keeping Delonte West. Be prepared for another round of LeBron v. Kobe debates, as the King wins his first MVP.
*2. Detroit Pistons - Even if GM Joe Dumars decides to make changes they should be good enough to make the playoffs. If he doesn't believe they're a championship contender, look for one of the mainstays to possibly be on the move (most likely Sheed). Get to know Rodney Stuckey.
3. Chicago Bulls - One of the league's smallest teams, can they make the playoffs with a rookie head coach and point guard? Drew Gooden is a captain, and something about that fact makes me think they aren't going to qualify.
4. Milwaukee Bucks - Luke Ridnour and Michael Redd in the backcourt doesn't scare anyone. What position will Joe Alexander be playing?
5. Indiana Pacers - They've gotten rid of the bad apples, but what have the replaced them with? Not very good basketball players.
*1. Orlando Magic - Best team that people regularly overlook. Dwight Howard is a dominant force, but he has another level. If he dedicates himself and works hard, he'll work himself into the elite class of the league. Look for Mickael Pietrus and... JJ Redick to be big contributors and the Magic will be the first division winner in the east to clinch.
*2. Atlanta Hawks - A young team with a lot of potential, but Josh Smith, fresh off his new contract, has returned to being a malcontent. If the team chooses Smith over Coach Woodson, the team may toil and find themselves on the outside looking in. They should be able to overcome the loss of Josh Childress, but a shorter bench could prove problematic in the long run.
*3. Charlotte Bobcats - The players' can't quit on two consecutive coaches, especially given that Larry Brown in a HOFer. If they get any play out of the power forward position, they round into a nice team.
4. Miami Heat - They'll see the most improvement in the win column of any team, but DWade can't carry a team for 82 games (like he did in the Olympics). In a contract year, it'll be inriguing to watch which Shawn Marion shows up, and will he and Beasley fight at some point this season?
5. Washington Wizards - No Hibachi, no Haywood. Caron Butler's going to hurt, because he'll be carrying the team (Antawn will be standing in the corner ready to shoot). Even when Agent 0 comes back, will his knee hold?
For the eighth spot from most probable to least...
*1. Utah Jazz - The early clinchers of the western conference, they'll end up with a higher seed than their record would dictate.
*2. Portland Trail Blazers - The most overrated team that hasn't made the playoffs. People are sewing up banners for their rafters, but at this team they're a bunch of young talented players that haven't put it together for an entire season. Growing pains will continue, but come playoff time, no one wants to draw this team.
3. Denver Nuggets - AI will probably be on the move, but don't discount the possibility that Carmello may try to force his way out. With so many teams in the west getting better, they are one of the few distinctly getting worse.
4. Minnesota Timberwolves - With the Trail Blazers becoming over exposed, the T-Wolves and Nets could become the two favorite "hidden" gems that basketball players love to watch, even if they are interesting. Watching Kevin Love pass is worth the price of a nosebleed seat, at least.
5. Not Seattle Sonics - Kevin Durant is as good as advertised, but the team's still wrecked from the cost cutting measures of a year ago.
*1. Los Angeles Lakers - The class of the west, the Phil Jackson gushing will reach epic proportions with his ability to get Gasol and Bynum to play together. At the end of the year, they will be depending on the same bench guys to come through in the playoffs, and there's no reason to think they will step up this year. Jordan Farmar has become one of the most entertaining young players to watch and can Trevor Ariza stay healthy?
*2. Phoenix Suns - Perhaps the most hollow playoff berth any team will receive. They're good enough to make the cut, but not good enough to compete with the big dogs. The exception will be if Amare, Raja Bell, Alando Tucker and Leandro Barbosa step up and allow Nash, Shaq, and Grant Hill to be overpaid role players, they can wreak havoc in a playoff series.
*3. Los Angeles Clippers - Baron Davis, Marcus Camby and Eric Gordon lead a re-tooled Clipper squad. Although they have added Ricky Davis, this team has the energy and ability to cause trouble for a lot of teams.
4. Golden State Warriors - Coach Nelson's swansong will end up short of the playoffs once again. After trading the team's heart, Jason Richardson, the team has slowly eroded to a very average team. With no Monta Ellis for most of the first half and an apparently dissatisfied Al Harrington, Nellie's final year will be marked with more drama than wins.
5. Sacramento Kings - They spent a lot of money, but not very wisely.
*1. Houston Rockets - They're one of the deepest teams and Ron Artest adds a toughness their other stars lack. They will be back and forth with the Hornets all season, but their depth and ability to play different styles will prove to be the difference in the standings.
*2. New Orleans Hornets - The team may not win as many games as last season, but the addition of James Posey makes them an even tougher out in the playoffs.
*3. San Antonio Spurs - The better of the two aging Texas teams, this year will signify the end of the road for the Suprs Big Three and championship hopes. It's doubtful they would've won this year, but Manu's Olympic performance may have robbed the team of any legitimate shot at a final ring.
4. Dallas Mavericks - This ranking is based on Mark Cuban not blowing this team up, but depending on the start, it's a real possibility. They're stuck in an awkward phase with a lot of older salary and some young talented players that just don't mesh.
5. Memphis Grizzlies - Rudy Gay will have more highlights than they have wins, but not as many big time dunks as the team has point guards.
Finals Prediction: Cavs over Rockets
The polls are closed and much to Xtra Medium's delight, we have decided to adopt the Buffalo Sabres as our NHL team to follow for the 08-09 season. The Sabres have never hoisted a Stanley Cup in their history, but maybe with our help we can get the team over the top this year and make history. The Sabres have got off to a fast 6-1-1 start, with their only loss coming last night to Ottawa after we made the decision to follow them. We consider this not an ill omen of things to come, as we will do everything to bring the Cup to Buffalo. Coming soon we will have reports on the team, the fans, and the games in order to bring hockey to the forefront of American sports. Ok, we won't be that idealistic but it should be fun following a team we have never covered before. Rest assured, we will investigate every crease and cranny to make this season special. Basically it will be a lot more of this:
A lot of NBA cuts have been going on as team's trim their roster in preparation for the new season. Several college standouts have again found themselves unable to make the transition. Some of the notables:
Gerry McNamara - Consistent and not at all overrated (NSFW), Big East Tournament legend, waived by the Utah Jazz.
Patrick Ewing Jr. - Listed to link this dunk performance, waived by New York Knicks.
Keith Van Horn's contract - once again out of the league, waived by New Jersey Nets.
Julius Hodge - ACC standout and Chris Paul crotch punch victim, waived by New Jersey Nets.
Chris Richard - 6th Man from Florida's National Championship team, got Derrick Coleman hungry not KG hungry, waived by Minnesota Timberwolves.
Matt Freije - Leader of Vandy's Sweet sixteen run, waived by Milwaukee Bucks.
Nick Fazekas - Led Nevada to four straight NCAA tournaments often wrecking brackets by failing to advance after making Sweet Sixteen his freshman year, waived by Denver Nuggets.
Larry Brown can now rejoice, the Charlotte Bobcats have now signed a tall power forward that can guard. Linton Johnson III measures in at a rangy 6'8"... in shoes, he's 6'10". Johnson has played in eight games total in the last two years, and has suited up for six teams in five years. He boasts career averages of 4.1 ppg and 3.4 rpg. Finally, there will be peace in the QC, because Larry Brown got his man.
The first five and a half innings of game 5 of the World Series made a mockery of baseball. The Phillies and Rays play 162 games just to make the playoffs, defeat all comers, and their reward: on the most important night of the season they play in near-freezing temperatures, with atrocious officiating and a driving rain storm. It was like a reality show, but without the snarky comments of one of the judges (although McCarver tried his best).
The comedy of errors began with the scheduling of the entire postseason. Late starts, AM finishes, trying to compete with college football, allowing Fox to dictate the schedule all pointed to disaster for the ratings and baseball, as a whole. The crescendo of the postseason debacle appeared to be the Saturday night game that ended with people on the West Coast complaining about how late the games went, but oh no. In potentially the series clinching game baseball decided the getting the game in was more important than showcasing the best of the best under optimal conditions. The Commissioner’s Office made a farce of their sport playing in that weather. It’s not hard to imagine a dry Bud Selig sounding like Monty Python’s Black Knight when describing the rain, “Tis but a drizzle. I’ve seen worse.” Watching the players with their hands down their pants, guys in the dugout drinking coffee, and the grounds crew taking every opportunity to attempt to make the infield playable was laughable and painful at the same time. It seemed like baseball was about five minutes from a massive rush order of ShamWows to force the game to continue.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the home plate umpire squeezing pitcher’s in a driving rain, the most ridiculous performance by an ump since Frank Drebin was calling the balls and strikes. The cherry on the top was listening to the dulcet tones of Joe Buck, who would rather have been making a bunt cake watching Paula Dean instead of at a baseball game. He, along with his cohort Tim McCarver have been in attack mode since the Series began. Rest assured Buck won’t be as critical of the league officials when he steps back in the booth to call NFL games. Listening to Buck describe the bad calls sounds like an abusive husband who has no fear of repercussion from his battered wife. Fans should be hoping that the MLB or Fox goes Laura Burney on Buck’s baseball broadcasting responsibilities before next season.
Instead of the World Series being baseball’s showcase and the coronation of an unexpected champ, it’s been turned to a circus. Bud Selig seems more interested in ending the season at the behest of Fox than in providing a grand stage for the young stars. They bended to the whim of Fox in eliminating the team introductions and Fox’s marketing department sees fit to (brought to you by Sprint) interrupt (Drinkability) each pitch (House is grumpy) with advertisements. Major League Baseball has written off attracting young fans with the start times and is content with being a second-rate professional sports league. David Stern would never play a Finals game with an eight foot rim, Roger Godell would never play a Super Bowl with a deflated football, hell even Gery Bettman wouldn’t play the Stanley Cup Finals with melted ice, but that’s exactly what Selig did by undermining both teams by allowing game 5 to continue. The nation’s past time has become a national after thought, and baseball owners have themselves to blame.
On my flight back from Miami on Sunday I got to experience the DirectTV Redzone since my flight was on JetBlue. I can honestly say that from now on when I am flying on a Sunday in the fall, I will do everything in my power to fly on this airline. No commercials, not too much time listening to the same broadcast team, and no being stuck on a bad game with only a few game breaks every half to let you see the other action. I realize that a lot of people already have Sunday Ticket and that this is nothing new to them, but for schmucks like me, it is quite an experience, even if it does come from a small TV on the back of an airplane next to two young people in Virginia Tech gear playing love-rub the whole flight. I watched all the early games by the Redzone and it confirmed what I already know: if I could afford it I would get DirectTV just for Sunday Ticket alone. Continue on for my thoughts and observations on the week's action.
Panthers gain the edge
Earlier this week on local radio Jon Beason predicted he would have an INT and he did and it came at a pivotal moment in the game with the Panthers clinging to a one point lead. Carolina came back from a 17-3 deficit to win 27-23 as Steve Smith tightroped the sideline to put the Panthers ahead for good. The play was proof of why we need instant replay in football and even more proof of why sideline and goaline cameras need to be set-up for each and every game. So many times we see calls not able to be made because the network's camera angles do not give us a definitive shot. The only evidence we had for the play is the divet Smith kicked up with the front part of his foot. This lead Brian Baldinger to say that Steve Smith ahs the strongest arch in his foot of anyone in the world. Magnus Ver Magnussen would probably disagree. The win combined with the Bucs loss puts the Panthers sqaure in first place with the Raiders and Lions as their next two. What was earlier a question of whether the Panthers would make the playoffs is now turning into a question of how far they will go.
Buffalo falling back down to earth?
The Bills 25-16 loss to Miami signals their second loss of the season and their first with Trent Edwards more than the first quarter. The Dolphins played a complete game and forced a key INT and safety from Edwards. The Bills as a result slipped into a tie for first in the AFC East with New England who won at home against St. Louis. There was also a Ted Ginn Jr. sighting on Sunday in Dolphins Stadium as he had 7 catches for 175 yards and managed not to break his leg in celebration.
Jolly good show!
While I don't agree with playing regular season games outside the US, the Chargers and Saints put on a good show in London. To me this is like Manchester United and Chelsea playing their match in America, but the Saints come away with the much needed win 37-32, while San Diego falls to 3-5. Luckily for the Chargers, they play in the AFC West and still are within sight of the Broncos. In a battle between the former San Diego starter and back-up, the passing lines were about equal for both Brees and Rivers: 30-41, 339, 3 TDs for Brees and 25-40, 341, 3 TDs for Rivers. LT had a solid game, rushing for 105, but it was the Chargers defense that could not handle the challenge. It turned into a wild shootout, but San Diego just ran out of ammo.
Jets receive 0 style points
A win is always a win, but Favre and the Jets made it look pretty bad on Sunday 28-24 against the hapless Chiefs. Favre had 3 picks as he now leads the league in them. The last of his almost cost the Jets the game as Brandon Flowers returned it for six. The Jets are probably the most insecure 4-3 team out there right now, especially since they are only third in the division. They have games at the Bills and at the Patriots in 2 of their next 3 games. Unless they go 2-1 or 3-0 over that stretch, it will be no playoffs for Farve and he can return to handing out info on the Packers full-time.
Giants steal one
In my picks for this weekend's games I said that I thought the Giants would get to Roethlisberger but the Steelers would find a way, and they almost did. But a host of turnovers and a bad snap lead to the Giants escaping the burgh with a 21-14 win. The game was as hard hitting as we thought it would be. The Giants are in a great position to make a playoff run and defend their title, and a big reason is Eli Manning's lack of INTs. His stats were not pretty, but he threw 0 picks. Big Ben threw 4 and also took 5 sacks, but nobody is piling on him as the O-line for Pittsburgh has not been there for him all year. The Steelers play Washington, Indy, and San Diego next so it does not get any easier for them going forward. In regards to the Kenny Phillips hit that drew a flag, we know how Aikman feels about it, but it surely has become a hard issue for the NFL to solve. Players keep getting bigger and stronger and the game by its very nature induces incredible collisions. The league and the officials need to be more careful about which plays display harmful intent and which ones are just products of the physicality of the game. If it had been Hines Ward loading up a hit like that on Sunday, the Steeler fans would have cheered loudly as the opposing player was slow getting up.
Mike Singletary goes a tad too far
It was not a good debut for Head Coach Mike Singletary. The previous sentence I wrote was an understatement. After predicting the Niners would rally and win, I now see how ridiculous my prediction looks now. First off, there was this:
Then, there was the 34-13 loss to the Seahawks. Finally, Mike decided to have a rant in his post-game press conference, seen here:
The rant surrounds the decision by Singletary to tell Vernon Davis to hit the showers after a dumb personal foul penalty late in the game. Not having all the facts about the situation all I conclude is this: Vernon Davis committed a dumb penalty, but he also rarely gets thrown the ball, has a bad QB, and did try to chase down a Seattle defender after an interception. Singletary took some tough shots at Davis and so far to his credit, Davis has not cried about it. I think the outburst by Mike has to do with his frustration and him being an emotional person. It was going a little too far to publicly bash him like that. If he had that big a problem, he should have just dressed him down on the sideline, which the cameras would have gotten to prove his point and then address him in private. All this is considering Davis was a number 6 pick that has never produced, but I think in this case he was placed with the burden of being the face of a franchise of futility at the moment.
As far as Danyelle Sargeant goes, she has already gotten flack on TV, radio, and the internets, but some of it is well deserved. Prior to this incident there was this gem. The bottom line for me is this; you are an NFL sideline reporter, you get paid (probably decently) to cover the league, how do you not know that Bill Walsh has been dead for over year! That alone gives people the right to harshly criticize you. Furthermore, how do you not know the story of Singletary anyway? Great Bears linebacker? Hello? I'm sure there will be a tailwhip back in the positive for this girl as the network and others rally for her in the sympathy vote, but to me this is inexcusable. You are only on camera for a few minutes out of a 3 and half hour broadcast, you have no business saying something that stupid.
Will ESPN give the Titans a "Pursuit of Perfection" highlight graphic now?
It would only be fair, since they did that to the Patriots last year. In any case, the Titans handled Manning, the pressure, and the ugly uniforms to win 31-21 last night. The Colts look like a tired team this year. As soon as Manning went under the knife, and Bob Sanders and Joseph Addai went on the shelf they have looked nothing like they have in past years of success. Even Tony Dungy has been off track, making a questionable call to go for it on 4th down in the 3rd quarter and then not even throwing the red flag when Chris Johnson clearly fumbled the ball. Even if the refs come over and say they blew the play dead you still throw the flag. The schedule does not get easier for the Colts and I do not know if they will get more than 9 wins this season at this point. The Titans did what they have been doing, grinding it out and relying on their defense to hold the other team. The Titans defensive line has gotten much of the press, but the defensive backfield has been stellar as well. Chris Hope and Nick Harper had terrific games. Looking at the Titans offense, I am still not sure that Vince Young could not come in and do what Collins is doing, but the team is surely going to stand firm with is working right now. That being said Kerry had some bad looking passes and the Titans also had some easy passes dropped, but with the defense playing the way it is and the combination of White and Johnson, it appears Tennessee has the AFC South well in hand.
Monday, October 27
Having gotten back from the my trip to Miami last night and being back in the office today I am in recovery mode. So from my end, it will be a quiet day but I will be back tomorrow with my De-Cleeting, a story from my Miami trip, and some thoughts on college football. Later this week I will update our conference fantasy football competition (I know you have been crying out for it), and discuss the World Series, which might be over tonight. I haven't spoken to Catfish as of yet so maybe his weekend was as good as mine. Lastly, don't forget to chime in on which NHL team we will be adopting this season. Today is the last day to vote.
EDITOR'S NOTE: My computer's hard drive blew up last night so there will be even more of a delay until I figure out what to do. This basically means my ability to post is directly proportional to the amount of work I have to do at the office. Hopefully Catfish will pick up my slack for the near future.
Saturday, October 25
It's not uncommon to hear politicians say, "I support our troops, but not the war." It's with this mantra in mind that I now reach out to my fellow Charlotteans and Bobcat fans. We should back our team, even if we don't support the owner. Some people are not happy about how the way the team ended up in the Queen City, but the players played no role in that and should not be held accountable. Not only are the Bobcats the lone major league franchise that bears the name of our beautiful city, but they're a team composed of quality young men.
As fans, we long for "good guys" to root for, but annually we've ignored the ones in our backyard. The team boasts two academic All-Americans: fresh face DJ Augustin and the face of the franchise, Emeka Okafor. The leader of our team, Jason Richardson, has been described as, "the noblest Warrior," and the former dunk champion has worked tirelessly to evolve into a complete player. There's little doubt that he will take on Larry Brown's challenge to become a better defender with the same vigor. The roster boasts a young man, Jared Dudley, who was not recruited out of high school, but through persevearance went on to earn ACC player of the year honors, despite not being the most athletic player, even on his own team. Team captain Gerald Wallace has earned the nickname, "Crash" by playing with reckless abandon, a trait rare amongst stars in the NBA. Any one of these guys has the make-up to become a fan favorite and in Richardson's case, he was with Golden State. As much as there is not to like about the front office, there's just as much to like on the floor.
Some may say, "they're nice guys, but if the team doesn't win, so what?" The wins will come. Panthers players have noted the difference that the home crowd makes and for the Bobcats it should be no different. Fans need to understand the season is going to start slow. The Bobcats have a tough schedule early on, but as they become more comfortable with the demands of their new Hall of Fame coach, who couldn't be more different from his predecessor, they have the heart and the ability to make a playoff run. Seriously.
Bob Johnson is a tough owner to
love like. He's chosen to not embrace our city, and has made countless choices with everything but basketball in mind. The good news is he appears to be looking to sell, regardless of what he says. Some are still upset about paying for the new arena, but we're one of only 29 cities in the United States with multiple pro sports franchises and that serves as a point of civic pride. Many fans use words such as "we" and "our" when referring to our other team, the Panthers, well the Bobcats are our team too and we should embrace them as such. I don't like the ownership, but I support our team, and I encourage everyone to do the same.
Friday, October 24
Starting with last night’s game, the starters shot a combined 12/40 from the field.
Only 2 players that shot more than 3 times shot better than 38%
- Adam Morrison 4-8 (Reports of Ammo to the Knicks trade rumors)
- Shannon Brown 2-5
Emeka Okafor only attempted 3 shots in 32 minutes of action
-All in a 7-minute span in the 3rd quarter. One a breakaway dunk that gave the Bobcats their only lead
Sean May (11 min) and Ryan Hollins (5 min) only two players to not have a TO.
- Leaders: Richardson (4), Morrison and Wallace (3)
Shannon Brown led the team in assists with 3.
- Felton and Augustin both had 2.
- No other player had more than 1.
The team registered more assists than TOs in only 3 of the 8 games.
- Opp also only had more assists than TOs in 3 games.
Team has shot less than 40% from the field in half of their games, and highest was 43.2%
- Lowest opp FG%: 42.3 (last night)
- Opp FG% better than 45% in 4 games
Bobcats attempted more FTs than opp in only 2 games.
- Shot FTs at 77.5% (Last season total 71.4%)
More total rebounds than opp in only 3 games.
Last night, 2 Asts – 2 TOs
For the preseason:
- 5/24 from 3point (21%)
- 17/70 FG (24%)
- 31 assists
- 18 Turnovers
- 209 Total Minutes Played
The guys seem to be thinking too much instead of reacting and that's leading to passing windows closing, hesitation on shots, and general poor play. They must do a better job of attacking the hoop and getting Mek involved in the offense. Don't look for the Cats to get off to a fast start at the beginning of the season. Twelve of their first sixteen games are against playoff teams from a year ago. December should be more favorable, as they have 10 of their 16 games against non-playoff teams. No matter how hard they play or how well they are coached they are still undersized on the front line and lack a guy to guard rangy power forwards. This team has the talent and the ability to make the playoffs, but fans must not give up if/when they get off to a rough start.
Thursday, October 23
The fourth and final team up for potential adoption is the Washington Capitals. They won the Southeast Division last season, but finished with 94 points, tied with the 8 seed. Their Young Guns may not be as good as the original Regulators and they rep Pennsylvania Ave. not 21 and Lewis, so those are some big shoes to fill. More after the break...
Alexander the Great: Any discussion of the Capitals has to begin with Ovechkin. We tend to be partial to guys that are sick on the sticks, and this is no different. A guy that score and hit like this don't come along often (ever?). He also has a song by Pummeler (song on their myspace NSFW) "(you can) spear him in the balls, (you can) check him into walls, (you can) cut him with your skate, (and yet he) never f****** falls, (if you) break his f******* nose, (then his) fire only grows, (and he may) score another goal, (before the) wound is f****** closed!" Jerry Manuel would say "that's gangsta!"
How do I follow that up? It's like someone introducing Tim Robbins, star of Shawshank Redemption and Bull Durham, and then interjecting he was also in Quarterback Princess and Cadillac Man. If we pick the Caps it's because of Ovechkin.
Bob Johnson Proxy: They play in the city that Bobcats owner Bob Johnson actually lives in. This is not looking good Caps fans.
ZHOH zay: Both of their goaltenders are in their thirties, and Jose don't call me HOE zay Theodore isn't an awe-inspiring netminder. Besides, if I get excited and yell ZHOH zay, people may misinterpret and think I'm cheering for SHA zay, and that's unacceptable.
Third Fiddle: There's no doubt they play at least second fiddle to the Redskins and depending on Hibachi's return, they could be playing third fiddle amongst Washington area sports teams. If we're going to adopt you, your own city should at least want you too.
I'm posting my NFL picks a day early because I will be heading down to Miami this weekend for Wake Forest-Miami game. A week ago was my best week in awhile, but still not that great of a performance on my NFL picks last week. What I thought were sure picks like Indy, Dallas, and the Jets kept me from a great week. What games will I fudge this week? Continue on to find out.
Last Week: 9-5
OAK at BAL: Ravens- The Raiders got a win over the Jets thanks to the big boot of Sebastian last week, but heading to the east coast and facing the Ravens D might lead to a 6,3, or 0 point performance.
ARI at CAR: Panthers- A game between two teams that can reverse their level of play week to week. The 1:00 start helps the Panthers and so does the fact that unlike other years, they are strong at home this year(5-0).
TB at DAL: Bucs- Be prepared for many shots of a frustrated Jerry Jones on the sidelines or up in the box during this game. Gruden may be familiar with how to stop Brad Johnson after the success they had together. Just look to how bad he made Gannon look in the Super Bowl.
WSH at DET: Redskins- The Redskins have looked very shaky ever since they won consecutively in Dallas and Philly, but seriously, are the Lions going to be picked in any game they have left? That being said I give Orlovsky credit for showing some fight last week and I do think the Lions will catch someone sleeping before the end of the season, I just won't be picking it.
BUF at MIA: Dolphins- What used to be a yawn-fest will actually be a competitive game with AFC East implications. I think Sporano and crew right the ship this week.
STL at NE: Patriots- The Patriots are being decimated by injuries, but again, no one else in the league cares. You would think before the season started and even after Brady went down, the Rams would have no chance in this game, but after the last two weeks it will be no cake-walk. That being said, a hobbled Stephen Jackson helps the Pats' chances.
SD at NO: Chargers- The Saints are going to miss Reggie Bush badly in this game and the NFL misses out on a chance to showcase him to the English. I am not a fan of this game but I also don't subscribe to whining about the miles traveled by the teams. The Charges need a win, and so far they have picked one up everytime they needed one this season. That sound you here is the analysts leaping from the Saints bandwagon.
ATL at PHI: Eagles- Another compelling match-up of a avian variety. Matt Ryan has shown he has the stuff, but Jim Johnson is going to release the hounds and that will be enough to force some crucial turnovers. Odds on seeing a Eagles-Phillies half and half jersey? 3:1
KC at NYJ: Jets- Farve can deny all he wants, but if Jay Glazer told me he had inside info on the color of an NFL player's underwear, I would trust him. Still, the Chiefs are wallowing in incompitence and the injuries at QB don't help. Jets roll, and roll big.
CLE at JAC: Jaguars- The Browns has risen the level of their play, but it was painful watching them try to muster a tie against the Redskins last week. The Jags are coming off a bye week and should be ready to go and make a run at a playoff spot.
CIN at HOU: Texans- The Texans are quietly closing in on respectability and Andre Johnson is a big reason why. The man can play the position, no doubt and as long as Schaub can sling it, he'll catch it. Somewhere, Duke is yelling at Carson Palmer in Rocky fashion, "Stay down Carson, stay down!"
NYG at PIT: Steelers- I do think the Giants will put a hurt on Big Ben, but New York has looked off-kilter the last couple of weeks. It should be a great game to watch and I'm sure all the Pittsburgh fans at the Ketchup bottle will be ready to go.
SEA at SF: 49ers- For Mike Singletary's first game, they have rolled out an easy one for him. The Seahawks are the walking wounded right now. I definitely do not think it will be pretty, but it will be a win.
IND at TEN: Titans- People are talking about the Titans, but this will be their official coming out party. Peyton better watch himself because I have a feeling Haynesworth and Van DenBosch are out for blood.
It's Clue fun factoid time and to be honest, I don't know if I can through 17 of these plus the playoffs but today we focus on Lesley Ann Warren. She played Miss Scarlet in the film and in the movie her character was the madam of a D.C. house of ill repute. Again when I watched this movie over and over again as a kid, I had no idea what that was but I kind of got the idea. Warren has had a long list of roles in her career, including Lula in Stone Country. You know Stone Country, it is the George Strait movie CMT plays all the time, ok maybe you don't watch CMT. Lately she has been working in TV as Jinx in "In Plain Sight", Tina in "Will and Grace" and Sophie in "Desperate Housewives". Enjoy the weekend and the games all.
Earlier this week ASD began a quest. Not a Tribe Called Quest, but a quest to adopt a new NHL team. Cleet has already struck on the Ning and now it's time for the pros and cons of choosing the Buffalo not-Bisons. More after the break.
Power!: Sometimes a video just says it all.
Better Days: Buffalo is the home of the Goo Goo Dolls and Rick James...NO, I won't be an enabler.
No Stanley Cups: No one can accuse us of front-running, but the team does regularly make the playoffs, which is a plus, because the NHL playoffs are the best in professional sports. Perhaps ASD can be just the force the Sabres need to push it to the next level.
Young Stud in the Net: Goalkeeper Ryan Miller enters just his third full season with in the NHL and has a brand new long-term contract. Miller improved through his first two seasons with Buffalo appearing in the 06-07 All-Star game, but had a down year last year along with the rest of the team. So far this season he's looking to rebound with a 1.45 GAA. This could be the year that Miller begins to join the upper echelon of goalies in the league.
Toughness: The Sabres captain Craig Rivet had arthroscopic knee surgery and is going to be out... for TWO WEEKS. I know people that are out longer than that after tweaking something in a flag football game.
No Stanley Cups: Any time you adopt a
child team, you want to believe that you aren't adopting something sickly. You want something fun, a winner or at least someone good at math. The Sabres didn't make the playoffs last year and their may be smarter, more talented kids teams for us to adopt.
Buffalo Girls are Easy>: This could easily be a positive, but if all the girls are too busy drooling over the players to notice us, how are we supposed to use our vast knowledge of the team to impress the ladies?
The New Logo: Maybe I'm just a traditionalist, but I couldn't agree with this more...
On a Personal Note: I have no personal note, other than to say that the girl that sat by us in European History was in love with Cleet and she was a Sabres fan. I'm pretty sure I was awake long enough to remember that correctly.
Oh Puckman, how aptly named you are. It is time to look to the second choice of our NHL quartet of possible teams that the ASD will adopt and cover as its own. The Islanders are a sentimental favorite for me since I have family with roots in New York and Long Island, but we must weigh the options before we act quickly. The good and the bad of the Isles after the break.
New York, New York: The Islanders have the advantage of being located in the Big Apple(or in the vicinity) and having it on their namesake. New York sports teams may be putrid sometimes, but they always have the attention of their fans. The thing I like about the Islanders is that they are not always the main attraction in the city. The Rangers play at MSG and are usually thought of first when it comes to New York hockey. Being a Mets fan, I can appreciate the position the Islanders are in.
Trust the Gordon's Fisherman: The logo in a word: awesome. From 1995-1997, this was the logo of the Islanders:
There is nothing quite like a crazed, old fisherman in teal slickers holding a hockey stick to inspire confidence and support for your team. It was truly a unique logo in the world of sports even though its stay was brief. The logo should not be confused with this one, however:
Between the pipes: The man in goal for the Isles is Rick DiPietro. He has shown the ability to be a top goaltender in the league and the Isles obviously have faith in him, they signed him to a 15 year deal. Yes you read that right, 15 years, the longest in professional sports history, take that A-rod! The problem has been keeping DiPetro healthy which will be the challenge for him in 15 years, when he begins collecting social security. His health might not be certain but the sweetness of his goalie mask is:
Gimmie a dime!: As I mentioned before the Islanders would be my sentimental pick if that was the sole basis for a decision on which team to cover. My father worked security at Nassau Coliseum in his younger days when he was jacked up with muscles. He once told me of a story of when some all-american football players came to the coliseum for some event and apparently one of them (I think he said he was from Louisville) went up to my dad and utterd the words, "Gimmie a dime!" What makes this story memorable is the random nature of it and my father's clear dissapointment with the lack of manners the young man showed. This, according to my dad, was the genesis of his discontent with the modern athlete and their "selfishness". Again, random, but struck a chord with me anytime I heard the coliseum referenced.
Basically, you're not that good: The Islanders were 35-38-9 last year and will be featuring some young players next to well-paid(some would say over-paid) defenseman Mark Streit. They have been consistently picked to finish last in the Atlantic division, and have a rookie head coach in Scott Gordon. Their offense was only able to muster a paltry 2.3 Goals per game last year which was good enough for 30th in the league.
You're so Yesterday: From an attention-getter point of view, the only glitz has been the fact that Hillary Duff is dating center Mike Comrie. On the excitablity scale it is no under-age Kournikova/Federov story. Besides, what has Hill-duff done for us lately after "So Yesterday" and "Coming Clean"?
Catfish enjoyed poking fun at me for some former Canes' shortfalls in the NFL. Here is a list of the the top 10 Hurricanes in the NFL, courtesy of The Love of Sports. There are some good facts about the U's representation in the NFl as well, like a former Hurricane has scored a TD in each of the last 83 regular season weeks.
Remember when business was done over a beer and a handshake? Well that's how we were introduced to The Love of Sports. Last night I went to have some drinks with a friend of mine since it was her birthday and had a nice chat over some beers with one of her friends, who happens to be the brother of Mad Love who writes for the site. He told me about this article and about the site overall and it has been added to our links list. Be sure to check it out it is a very well done site and has some great content.
As Catfish has mentioned, we have decided to adopt an NHL team for the 08-09 season. This means we will be covering the team and in a way, rooting them throughout their campaign. After our "diligent" process of elimination we were left with the four choices in our poll. We will be doing a brief pros and cons to each organization in terms of our getting on their bandwagon. Here is our first of the four reviews; the Tampa Bay Lightning, after the break.
Barry Melrose: After years behind the desk as TWWL's first and only authority on the NHL, the master of the mullet has returned to coaching. Barry led the Los Angeles Kings to the 1993 Stanley Cup Finals aided by Wayne Gretzky and his non-bleeding head, yet they lost to the Canadiens in 5. Once TWWL dropped hockey, it truly became a red-headed stepchild of the network. It's once ample coverage was replaced by NASCAR and it seemed that they froze Melrose in carbonite most of the time, only bringing him out for short segments of hockey analysis. I'm a big fan of Melrose and the simple fact that he is coaching their makes me want to root for the team.
The Elegantly named two-headed monster: I don't know about you, but I never tire of pronouncing the names of the Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis. Place your freedom fries down for a second and recognize that these two help make Tampa's front line strong on the ice and exciting to watch. The two were big factors in the team's 2004 Stanley Cup victory.
Apropos naming: There is a phrase that says "What's in a name?", well since I live in the city of the Bob's cats, I say a hell of a lot when it comes to sports franchises. Tampa is recognized as the "Lightning Capital of North America" so someone was paying attention when the team was founded in 1992. It is a good name, unique to pro sports and enables many easily punned headlines. The Minnesota Wild and Nashville Predators should have learned by example.
Trick my Tampa: New owners took the team over in June and since then, Oren Koules and Len Barrie have done a complete makeover of the team's management. They are reportedly involved in decision making which can be dicey for owners (right Jerry Jones?) but the key is that they are spending money. If owners are spending money, you at least know they are committed to winning. It would be a fun team to follow during this season to see if all the wild moves pay off.
Your city is far too prosperous: Besides being in a warm-weather climate and in near proximity to the beach, other reasons of jealousy can arise. From a strictly sports point of view, Tampa has bathed in championship gold compared to other long time sports towns. The Bucs won the Super Bowl in 2002, the Rays are currently in the World Series after being horrible, and these same Lightning won the Cup in 2004. Tampa is not especially known for its wildly dedicated sports fans so perhaps we don't want to jump on board with front-runners.
Chemistry?: We have all seen what happens sometimes when a team is thrown together by ownership eager to win right away; see Dan Snyder. The owners of the Lightning have spent their money, but have they spent it wisely? They put a lot of offense on the ice with the additions Ryan Malone, Vaclav Prospal, and Radim Vrbata, but they may have neglected the defense which they were ranked 30th in last year. If they win, it is brilliant front office manuevering, but if they fail, well you remember the bad days of Dan Snyder in Washington right?
On a personal note: One of my exs, whom I had been dating for four years, moved to Tampa for medical school and promptly loss interest in me after about a month in the city. While this may be due to other factors, mostly my own faults, it provides good reason for me to give the /angry fist shake at the city and all sports teams who dwell in it. Petty reason? Maybe, but just ask Xtra Medium how bad he wanted the Red Sox to lose the ALCS.