Monday, July 25, 2005

Quick hits

--> If you go to now, you can see my preview of the Big 12 Conference. The previews up now are the ACC, Big East, Big 10, and Big 12. Still to come are the other seven Division I-A conferences, plus a quick look at the small crop of Independents. Look for those between now and mid-August. After that, we'll get fired up on with our NFL preview for 2005.

--> The frenzy has already started in the NHL. Philadelphia has decided to buy out the contracts of John LeClair and Tony Amonte, Phoenix will buy out Brian Savage, and the Detroit Red Wings, who needed to make some moves to get far enough under the cap to be a factor in free agency, are going to buy out Derian Hatcher, Ray Whitney, and Darren McCarty. Buying out McCarty had to be a particularly difficult decision for the Wings, who watched as he showed some serious skill while also serving as an enforcer of sorts over the years. McCarty was one of those character guys who should have little trouble finding a new home if his price isn't too high. His price was too high, though, for the Red Wings, considering the new salary cap.

--> I'm intrigued by one of the possible rules changes in the NHL. The idea is to have linesmen be able to waive off any icings that come from attempted passes. It seems like something teams might abuse, but it's an interesting concept. Personally, I prefer the idea of punishing any team that ices the puck by preventing them from making a line change during the subsequent stoppage.

--> The shootout is now a reality in the NHL. I don't like it, but I'll suck it up and deal with it. Shootouts are akin, to me, to deciding a long-running baseball game with a home run derby, or ending a football overtime with a field-goal kicking contest. That said, the NHL put together a competition committee, and staffed it with folks who have played and/or coached in this great game a lot longer than I have even been alive. Sometimes, even if you don't agree with the judgments of others, you have to respect their experience and understand their viewpoint. The committee (the owners and many players seem to back them up on this idea) decided that the shootout would add an element of excitement to the game, and could help lure in fans who don't see any attraction in games that end in ties. I disagree with the judgment and the conclusion, but I will withhold actually judging the idea until I see it on the ice.

--> The baseball trading deadline is approaching this weekend. Seriously, why is A.J. Burnett such a hot commodity? Aren't the Orioles (or anyone else) better off going without a trade than bringing in a guy like this? Burnett is approaching 30, and he has done very little to tap into his tantalizing potential. He has a live arm and very good stuff, but he has a history of arm problems and doesn't consistently throw strikes. Why give up promising prospects on the off-chance that Burnett will suddenly find himself after he gets overpaid in a long-term deal?

--> NFL training camps are opening. There is more to come on this, including thoughts on Drew Rosenhaus and the Holdouts, a band coming to a stage near you - since none of them appear interested in playing football.

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