Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Anyway, that's not the point I'm about to make.
Tuesday night, Bob Costas hosted a roundtable discussion on sports blogging during his creatively named Costas NOW program. The guests were Will Leitch, the brilliant editor of Deadspin; H.G. "Buzz" Bissinger, the author of Friday Night Lights, among other works; and Braylon Edwards, wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns. Why was Edwards on the panel?
(Seriously, why was Edwards there? And has someone checked to make sure he's not in shock after what he sat through?)
Here is the video, posted on The Big Lead:
I'm all in favor of people having their own opinions. It's even okay with me if someone's opinion is misinformed. It's the old saying: The less one knows, the more firmly one believes. If this saying is true, Bissinger is the most ignorant man alive when it comes to sports blogging.
Other takes can be found here, here, here, and here, among other places. I won't bore you with any more shots at Bissinger or his televised idiocy.
However, there is a rather odd irony to Bissinger's appearance. At 1:39 of the video, Bissinger tells Leitch that he feels blogs are "dedicated to journalistic dishonesty".
Bissinger's words were prophetic. A story broke today that is wrought with what I feel is journalistic dishonesty. Even if you don't feel it goes that far, the word "irresponsible" certainly applies.
I don't know about you, but I hate it when blogs start stuff like this.
(A tip of the hat goes to HockeyFights.com for getting the image.)
Oh, wait. You mean that a blog didn't start it? The New York Daily News isn't a blog? What?
We know now that Sean Avery didn't go into cardiac arrest. Somehow, the Daily News screwed up. Royally.
So the Daily News fixed their story, right? Yes.
Did they acknowledge their error? Not so much (if they did, I haven't found it).
The best part about the original Daily News story? They made sure to mention their March report about Avery's alleged ties to prostitution (I mean, you don't even have to imply any allegations of drug use here, because it's so obvious that it's the direction you want this story to go). Play that card for all it's worth, kids.
Where's the outrage, mainstream media? If this story originally appeared on Deadspin, FanHouse, or any of the multitude of sports blogs that can be had on the internet, you can bet your ass that the Daily News and probably every other mainstream outlet in America would have been all over it.
Their words would have been similar to Bissinger's, only not nearly as profane. They would have called bloggers "irresponsible", ranted about how bloggers don't have editors to answer to like "real reporters" do, and how bloggers are just driving down the journalistic standards across America.
If a random guy with a Blogger account is driving down the journalistic standards across America, then what happens when the freaking NEW YORK DAILY NEWS messes up a story as badly as this one, then just gets to pretend it never screwed up in the first place?
Where, Mr. Bissinger, is your outrage today? Where is your statement about the horrific reporting by a major American newspaper?
Perhaps you misplaced it, along with your manners and dignity.
Even though the odds of him reading this are about as high as the odds I'll win Powerball tonight and get to retire to my own private Caribbean island, I thank Will for sitting through that last night and not doing anything stupid. Lord knows what they'd say about bloggers then.
(By the way, in case you're too lazy to click, Avery is okay. He's out for the rest of the season, which might only be one game for the Rangers. But he's expected to make a full recovery.)
Monday, April 28, 2008
Hey, if you've heard one crappy country song, you've heard them all, right?
Anyway, imagine the horror when I got to work this morning and read this:
Roger Clemens carried on a decade-long affair with country star Mindy McCready, a romance that began when McCready was a 15-year-old aspiring singer performing in a karaoke bar and Clemens was a 28-year-old Red Sox ace and married father of two, several sources have told the Daily News.Emphasis mine.
Yeah. Oh, and it gets worse. Or better, if you really don't like Roger Clemens and want to see him go down in flames (figuratively, of course).
Sources say that when McCready, now 32, and Clemens were together, there was barely any friction between them. The two were known to take lavish trips to Las Vegas and New York. One time, McCready attended a Yankees game at the Stadium and jokingly donned a catcher's mask near the home dugout. During another Big Apple excursion, the two holed up in the trendy SoHo Grand and later partied with Monica Lewinsky and Michael Jordan. McCready, according to a source, even bummed a cigar off His Airness to give to Clemens. There were personal love missives to Clemens hidden in McCready's album liner notes.That's almost too good to be true.
Hey, at least McCready didn't bum the cigar off Monica. Then we'd have some jokes to tell, wouldn't we?
Listen, I'm not one of these guys who jumps all over famous people that sleep around. It's reprehensible, but it's their poor choice to make, and it's not my job to judge. That's not to justify or endorse the behavior, but we aren't going to do anything to stop it.
However, if this report is true, you have a professional athlete running around with a 15-year-old girl. Not good in any way. Statute of limitations or not, this is a major issue.
If the report isn't true, and Clemens' attorney was truthful in saying they were "just friends", I think we still have an issue. Hats off to Will Brinson for nailing this part of it:
And I am sorry, but we don't living in a world anymore where it's okay to assume that any relationship between a 15 year old girl and a 28 year old man is platonic. And even if it is, it is still inappropriate, particularly if that relationship involves trips to Las Vegas and sundry parties with celebrities.That'll be the end of today's foray into the private lives of idiot professional athletes.
However, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the utter stupidity of the Family Cyrus. You're the father of a 15-year-old girl who is (literally) worth a billion dollars. She takes part in a photo shoot for a magazine article. You let her pose rather, um, provocatively, and you let the photo get published.
Miley Cyrus is taking issue with a photo of herself that's going around, and it's not another amateur, truth-or-dare Internet snapshot—it's the handiwork of Annie Leibovitz.Seriously, could you be any dumber?
The photos, appearing in the upcoming issue of Vanity Fair, were taken by Leibovitz, a renowned celebrity photographer whose edgy, silver- toned portraits have included subjects such as Angelina Jolie, Scarlett Johansson and a naked, pregnant Demi Moore.
"I'm sorry that my portrait of Miley has been misinterpreted," Leibovitz said in a statement released by Vanity Fair. "Miley and I looked at fashion photographs together and we discussed the picture in that context before we shot it. The photograph is a simple, classic portrait, shot with very little makeup, and I think it is very beautiful."
The Cyrus pictures accompany an interview with the 15-year-old pop star and her father, singer Billy Ray Cyrus. One photo in particular is causing the biggest stir: the teen idol is wrapped in what appears to be a satin bedsheet, looking over her shoulder with her back exposed.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
But the damage is done. It's now a topic. Want proof? How about the stupid behavior of Jaromir Jagr in Sunday's game?
Listen. I'm not here to say that hockey players don't embellish or dive on occasion. In fact, I'd argue that basically every skill player in the league has done it at least once in a key spot. Frankly, I don't think there's any way to stop it. Even with "diving" in the rule book, the gutless officials who work these games refuse to call it as a "stand alone" penalty, instead using "diving" along with "hooking" or whatever to create a four-on-four situation.
What good does that do?
The first time a team in a playoff game is short-handed because one of their skill guys took a dive, players will start thinking twice before they dive.
In the meantime, the aforelinked (I know...not a word) Scott Burnside piece has a quote from Ranger Brendan Shanahan that sums up the whole situation very well. Perhaps his head coach should heed the words.
"I know the guys in this room respect him and the way he plays, and he plays hard," Shanahan said. "He's around the puck a lot. He makes second and third efforts that are going to sometimes drop him down to his knees and on the ice. Sometimes that's just the way he plays. I don't think he's necessarily diving, but he's the type of player who will dive for loose pucks and dive for second and third efforts. And I think he plays an all-out, all-effort style sometimes the referees can confuse with somebody fouling him."Well done, old man.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
I never thought Louisville would miss a bowl game. They looked like a legitimate BCS contender, and they flopped badly.
I also didn't think QB Brian Brohm's stock would plummet through the basement. Had he come out in last April's draft, he would have been a top ten pick at the worst. I see him as being a better overall prospect than Matt Ryan, who was picked third this year. However, Brohm paid for an extra year in school, falling all the way to the 56th spot in the draft (second round).
That the Green Bay Packers selected Brohm is also a surprise, but it shouldn't be. After all, Ted Thompson is the man making the decisions.
Thompson is the kind of guy who just has to drive the Mel Kipers of the world nuts. You can't predict what he's going to do, or when he'll do it. Packer fans will be okay with his style as long as the team is successful, but there's no doubt Thompson doesn't like to take a lot of risks in the draft.
When in doubt, find a partner and trade down. He did it again in the first round this year, dealing out of the 30th overall selection and picking up selections in the second and fourth rounds from the Jets. He used that second rounder to make another unpredictable move, taking Kansas State wide receiver Jordy Nelson. Nelson wasn't terribly high on many boards, but the Packers like his combination of size, hands, and character. He has a chance to contribute immediately as a kick returner, and he projects as having the potential to be the big outside target this offense needs.
Then came the Brohm pick. Surely, you've tired of coaches and personnel guys crowing about their draft picks with lines like "We never would have guessed he'd be available" or "We had him at the top of our board". For once, such lines were justified. What the hell was Brian Brohm doing available at 56th overall?
It's the kind of thing that makes me wonder if there's too much time between the end of the season and the NFL Draft. You give these people three months to think about their draft board, and you get them thinking that maybe, just maybe, Adrian Peterson isn't that good.
(By the way, Brad Childress says "Thank you for that".)
I'm not saying Brohm is going to the Pro Bowl as a rookie. I'm not even saying he will walk in and take the job.
(Actually, it doesn't take a rocket surgeon to figure out that the Packers don't expect him to start right away. My first clue to that? "Aaron's the guy." I'm smart.)
The Packers will say all the right things here. Aaron Rodgers is a fantastic kid, and this job is his to lose. I do feel badly for him, however. You have the team drafting a young prospect. You have your former mentor playing games with the media over the chance he'll return, even though that chance is barely - if at all - measurable.
Overall, a good first day for the Packers, capped with the selection of Auburn CB Patrick Lee. The Packers addressed an immediate need (CB), a probable need (WR), and created at least the potential for competition at the most important position on the field.
And if the past is to be any guide, Thompson's best work is to come Sunday.
- Jake Long was a safe pick for Miami. With how bad they were last year, Bill Parcells knows he can't afford to take chances. He already has a running back in Ronnie Brown, and drafting a potential health/character risk in McFadden would have been a mistake. He wasn't sure about Matt Ryan as a franchise quarterback. This just makes sense for them. Oh, and on the heels of the impact Joe Thomas made in Cleveland last year, it's not a half-bad idea.
- The Rams did the right thing. Chris Long is going to be really good, and he gives them some versatility on the defensive line. As much as I believe McFadden is the best player available, it's hard to justify taking him when you already have Stephen Jackson. He's pretty good, I hear.
- Matt Ryan? Really? Talk about a panic move by Atlanta. I am thinking Arthur Blank didn't make his fortune by panicking. Why here? The Falcons need defensive line help. They have some patchwork veterans at the quarterback position who can hold down the fort if you solidify around them, and Ryan isn't going to make this team any better without that help, either.
- I love McFadden going to Oakland. Look for a potential Adrian Peterson-like impact.
- Kansas City should have moved down. Or taken Vernon Gholston. It's probably the second mistake out of the first five picks in the draft.
The Allen trade. More here. It's interesting to say the least. As I wrote earlier this week, I don't like the idea of giving up three upper-round picks and giving out a big contract for a guy. First off, it puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the Vikings to win. They're going to have to do it with questions at quarterback and along the offensive line. Those are major holes you can get help on with those draft picks. However, the Vikings decided they needed to fill a major hole at defensive end, and getting a proven commodity in Allen was worth giving up the draft picks and money. It's truly a defensible position, even if my conclusion isn't the same.
Monday, April 21, 2008
On one hand, there are the statistics, including 15.5 sacks last year. Oh, and Allen missed two games last season because of a suspension. You can't deny this talent. Allen is a world-class pass-rusher, and the Vikings are in desperate need of people who are actually capable of getting to the opposing quarterback.
On the other hand, Allen's past is checkered. He was suspended last year after getting arrested for drunk driving. Drinking is a big enough issue for the Chiefs that they don't appear in re-signing a legitimate star player for anything close to market value. They'd rather take whatever draft picks they can get for him and move on with their rebuilding.
For Minnesota to get Allen, they have to either sign him to an offer sheet and give up two first-round picks as compensation (Allen is Kansas City's designated franchise player), or they have to agree to a trade with Kansas City. Allen visited Minnesota over the weekend, and
Now, there's the matter of working out a deal, should this be what the Vikings want to do.
Should this be what the Vikings want to do?
I'd have no problem whatsoever with the concept of making a deal for Allen, but this is costly in two areas for Minnesota.
First, they have to give up some sort of draft-pick compensation. A franchise player who signs elsewhere without a trade being worked out is worth two first-round picks. Kansas City won't get that from Minnesota (or anyone else) in a trade, but they are getting at least a first-rounder, and you can probably throw in a second first-day pick with that. So the Vikings are looking at giving up two first-day picks in a solid draft just to get the right to sign Allen.
And then there's the matter of signing Allen. He won't come cheap. Last summer, Dwight Freeney of Indianapolis got a six-year, $72 million deal, including $30 million in guarantees. I'm not saying Allen will ask for as much or more money, but you can bet something close to it is in store.
Kevin Seifert of the Star Tribune has an interesting point on another issue in the Allen story, which is whether the Vikings should try to get this done this week, or wait until after the NFL Draft.
I tend to agree. Pay the price now and get it over with. If Allen isn't the answer by himself, the Vikings are going to need those 2009 and 2010 first-rounders to help stock the roster and build a winner around him.
By most accounts, the Vikings could have Allen today if they send Kansas City their first- and second-round picks in this weekend’s draft. That’s a premium price, one they might be able to lower into a first-and-third package by the end of this week. (As we’ve previously reported, the Vikings are close to an agreement with Allen’s agent on a multi-year contract extension.)
As the suggestion goes, the Vikings would sign Allen after the draft to a formal offer sheet for franchise players. The Chiefs would have the option to match, but they almost certainly would pass and accept the mandatory compensation according to NFL rules: The Vikings’ next two first-round draft picks, in 2009 and 2010.
True, the Vikings would enter the 2008 season with Allen plus a full draft class, including the No. 17 overall pick. But unless we’re missing something, this strategy seems to be a classic mortgage of the future in order to win now.
Work out a trade. This can't be hard, considering how desperate the Chiefs are to rebuild. That said, I'm just not sold that this is the best move for the Vikings. This is a solid draft, and while the Vikings undoubtedly have the money, it's not necessarily the best idea to build a team through free agency and high-priced, high-profile moves.
NBA playoffs uncovering a new, bright star. I was pretty confident that the NBA season passed without me missing anything significant until I started flipping channels during Saturday's Boston-Montreal hockey game.
Basketball fans are probably going to be mad at me for this, but I have to be honest. I probably watched two hours of various NBA games this season, and it was mainly to see how badly the Timberwolves were getting slaughtered (usually pretty badly). The most I watched of any single game was Minnesota's win over Phoenix January 23. Al Jefferson was a monster that night, putting up a 39-15. Wow.
Anyway, I flipped to ESPNHD Saturday during the second intermission of the hockey game. I was mesmerized. Chris Paul is amazing. He simply took over the third quarter of the New Orleans-Dallas game, lifting his team from a double-digit halftime hole into a lead and eventually a double-digit victory. He's not a me-first player at all, and you can tell the Hornets players are killing themselves to help him out.
Paul had 35 points and ten assists for the night, and I have to think the Hornets made believers out of a lot of people, if only for one night. People make too much out of experience in the playoffs. Paul's talent is enough to overcome a general lack of experience. Granted, there are going to be pressure situations in this series, and there will be spots that Paul doesn't come up big in. When that happens, he'll be asked about his lack of playoff experience.
Brush it off.
At some point, New Orleans will be eliminated (it's highly unlikely that they are good enough to win a title this year). When they go out, people will blame their youth. The reality, as FanHouse's Matt Watson points out (sort of), is that "experience" is a media creation. When it's convenient to point it out, it's a big deal. But no one wants to point out that a guy like Tracy McGrady has a wealth of playoff experience, and that he's usually stepped up in the playoffs.
Don't sweat it. The "new NHL" is a myth, too. Sometimes, the media is misled and doesn't bother to do their research. Sometimes, they just make stuff up because they think we're stupid.
End of Wild. This is going to be a tough offseason for Minnesota. They have 13 total free agents (restricted and unrestricted), and it's likely that there will be impressive roster turnover, something that's not been common for the Wild.
Pavol Demitra (pictured) and Brian Rolston are among the unrestricted free agents, and Pierre-Marc Bouchard highlights the list of restricted free agents (read more here).
Michael Russo did a fantastic job covering the Wild this season, and he has another fine blog post up today talking about the offseason conundrum.
I will tell you Jacques (Lemaire) said this decision to or not to return is no different than any season. He’s up there in age (62) and wants to make sure he still has the fire and has certain questions answered by (GM) Doug Risebrough.I've said already that I think Gaborik should be traded, but I'm starting to flip-flop on that a bit. And it's only been two days.
He did say he’s never had a harder time getting a team to play like a team in the regular season. He felt the team played exactly the way he finally wanted it to in the playoffs, and that’s why it’s a shame they’re out.
– Rolston reiterated he wants to be back, as did Pavol Demitra, Todd Fedoruk, Aaron Voros and Radivojevic. Matt Foy doubts he’ll be back. I did not see Keith Carney, and I’m not sure if Kent got him, but he’ll almost certainly play elsewhere (and will be missed by his teammates).
– PM Bouchard wants a long-term deal. Marian Gaborik did say an extension would be good this summer because a Marian Hossa-like distraction could ruin the team.
I do think Demitra should be allowed to move on unless the price is right (barely a raise off the $4.5 million he made). Rolston needs to be brought back unless someone makes him a stupid offer. If that's the case, let him go, because he's not worth tying up any large amount of the cap over.
But the Gaborik saga is interesting. I hope his future isn't tied to Demitra's, because I'm certain Demitra is on his way out. He was a passenger for most of the playoff series, and I wasn't happy with how he performed in a contract year.
Yost Tracker: 1. I'm not so mad about Brewers manager Ned Yost using closer Eric Gagne a fourth straight day. Frankly, he threw good pitches that were hit out of the ballpark. I can deal with that, because it's going to happen. Similarly, guys will get away with bad pitches that become outs. Oh, well.
Had "using a closer with a history of arm problems for a fourth straight day" been Yost's only crime, we wouldn't be here today.
Instead, Yost didn't stop screwing up Sunday's game in Cincinnati.
After deciding to lift Gagne, he went to Salomon Torres. This would be fine, except that the Reds had a gaggle of left-handers due up, and left-handed (and rubber-armed) reliever Brian Shouse was sitting in the bullpen.
Torres is right-handed, Ned, you idiot!
The first time is always special. Enjoy it, because we'll have forgotten about it by the time he does this for the fifteenth time.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Kiszla strikes again. I wrote about this here. In summary, Mark Kiszla is a columnist for the Denver Post. He is one of these guys that just writes about whatever the big story is at the time. He's not a beat writer for the Avalanche or Nuggets or Broncos or any single team. Just a columnist. And he sucks at his job. Instead of provoking thought and expressing his thoughts and opinions, Kiszla would rather incite and anger. It's a rather annoying trend that sportswriters tend to carry with them. I don't know if it's all the bad press box food, or if they're born that way.
Michael Russo, who covers the Wild for the Star Tribune and does a wonderful job, says fans should calm down. In reality, he's right. Kiszla got the reaction he wanted out of his hatchet job on the Wild. Fans are irate with him, mainly because his rant came across as completely uninformed and ignorant about how hockey works.
Russo's point is pretty simple. This guy's a moron, he doesn't know anything, and it shouldn't bother you that he doesn't like the Wild, how they play, or what they wear. Russo, however, is clearly losing patience with the ignorance that spews from the Denver media when it comes to the Avalanche and the NHL.
Surely, Russo's tired of Kiszla's crap, especially when the prospect of dealing with the likes of Woody Paige and Jim Armstrong still exists before the series is over. Oh, and the Avalanche beat writer at the Denver Post is potentially unstable, too. Fun!
I’m not into ripping other writers. But at some point here in Denver, the Avs jerseys should come off and impartiality and professionalism should trickle back into the business.
I’m sure I’ll be regretting that line later today, but I’ve bit my tongue all series.
I feel sorry for any real hockey fans in Denver, and there are many (I've met a few of them). The fanbase is full of a bunch of bandwagoners, and the media there is clueless about anything that doesn't involve John Elway.
As for the hockey...The Wild are in a good spot tonight. They'll have to weather a storm, as Colorado knows they have to win to avoid a 3-1 series hole. While it's nice to not be the team with all the pressure on them (as Minnesota would be if they had lost last night), things aren't yet all rosy with the Wild. Their top three available defensemen (Brent Burns, Kim Johnsson, and Martin Skoula) have all played admirably well, but all are playing a lot more minutes than they're accustomed to. This is going to be a problem if the series goes long, and a Colorado win tonight ensures at least six games.
So while Colorado has a lot of heat on them tonight, the Wild can't lollygag through this one. This is the time to show some killer instinct. A five-game series win would be huge for the Wild, as it would allow these defensemen to rest, and it would allow Nick Schultz to work himself back into shape so he can play again in the second round.
Minnesota hasn't scored a first- or second-period goal in this series yet (six in the third and two in overtime). To get that coveted 3-1 advantage, the Wild probably need to reverse this trend. It would help to get Marian Gaborik going, and they took a huge step in that direction last night. Gaborik led the team with nine shots on goal. If he can keep putting that kind of pressure on the Avalanche defense, it's bound to pay off for him.
In other series in the West, Dallas is mere minutes away from their shot at a 3-0 lead over Anaheim. No one gave them much of a chance in this series, and for them to have a 2-0 lead is shocking enough. The Stars need to do it. Even though Anaheim is the defending champion and completely befuddled by their poor play in the first two games, Dallas has pressure on them tonight. They don't want to let the experienced and tough Ducks back in the series.
San Jose is on their way to another classic playoff collapse, this time in the first round against Calgary. Will this one cost Ron Wilson his job?
Give plenty of credit to Boston for hanging in there against Montreal. The same can't be said for Ottawa, who is in the midst of folding like a cheap tent against Pittsburgh. It's somewhat fitting that it is the only first-round series still with a chance to end in a sweep. Ottawa did little down the stretch, and they just can't match up with Pittsburgh's high-end talent because of all their injuries.
I loved what Sean Avery did Sunday night in New York. I also understand the league's position, especially when it comes to the prospect of copycats and further hijinx from Avery. But I still laugh when I see the video, and I think people who talk about this being some sort of "black eye" on the NHL are being silly. Avery is a pest, and he'll think of other exciting ways to get under the skin of Devils goalie Martin Brodeur. The two don't exactly exchange Christmas cards every year.
NBA Playoffs. Who cares?
NFL schedule is out. Only in the NFL could this be a story. Some key dates, and then I'll bring you the Packers and Vikings schedules.
Thursday, September 4: Redskins at Giants
Sunday, September 7: Bears at Colts
Monday, September 8: Vikings at Packers and Broncos at Raiders
Patriots at Chargers
Cowboys at Giants
Patriots at Colts
Titans at Lions
Seahawks at Cowboys
Cardinals at Eagles
Giants at Cowboys
|1||Sept. 8 (Mon.)||at Green Bay Packers||7 p.m.|
|2||Sept. 14||Indianapolis Colts||1 p.m.|
|3||Sept. 21||Carolina Panthers||1 p.m.|
|4||Sept. 28||at Tennessee Titans||1 p.m.|
|5||Oct. 6 (Mon.)||at New Orleans Saints||8:30 p.m.|
|6||Oct. 12||Detroit Lions||1 p.m.|
|7||Oct. 19||at Chicago Bears||1 p.m.|
|9||Nov. 2||Houston Texans||1 p.m.|
|10||Nov. 9||Green Bay Packers||1 p.m.|
|11||Nov. 16||at Tampa Bay Buccaneers||1 p.m.|
|12||Nov. 23||at Jacksonville Jaguars||1 p.m.|
|13||Nov. 30||Chicago Bears*||8:15 p.m.|
|14||Dec. 7||at Detroit Lions||1 p.m.|
|15||Dec. 14||at Arizona Cardinals||4:05 p.m.|
|16||Dec. 21||Atlanta Falcons||1 p.m.|
|17||Dec. 28||New York Giants||1 p.m.|
|1||Sept. 8 (Mon.)||Minnesota Vikings||7 p.m.|
|2||Sept. 14||at Detroit Lions||1 p.m.|
|3||Sept. 21||Dallas Cowboys||8:15 p.m.|
|4||Sept. 28||at Tampa Bay Buccaneers||1 p.m.|
|5||Oct. 5||Atlanta Falcons||1 p.m.|
|6||Oct. 12||at Seattle Seahawks||4:15 p.m.|
|7||Oct. 19||Indianapolis Colts||4:15 p.m.|
|9||Nov. 2||at Tennessee Titans||1 p.m.|
|10||Nov. 9||at Minnesota Vikings||1 p.m.|
|11||Nov. 16||Chicago Bears||1 p.m.|
|12||Nov. 24 (Mon.)||at New Orleans Saints||8:30 p.m.|
|13||Nov. 30||Carolina Panthers||1 p.m.|
|14||Dec. 7||Houston Texans||1 p.m.|
|15||Dec. 14||at Jacksonville Jaguars||1 p.m.|
|16||Dec. 22 (Mon.)||at Chicago Bears||8:30 p.m.|
|17||Dec. 28||Detroit Lions||1 p.m.|
Monday, April 07, 2008
Obviously, I'm thrilled and grateful that the Governor used his line-item veto, rather than playing more political games with the idiotic DFL. They can't listen and follow requests and instructions, but this wasn't the time for lessons or immature messages. This and many other projects can now move forward, and the Legislature can continue to
(This wasn't just a good day for UMD hockey. The bill included money for the new events center in Bemidji, a facility that will likely save the Bemidji State program from a possible demise. It also had in it money for work at the National Hockey Center in St. Cloud, though the building is still expected to look like a large concrete block from the inside.)
NHL Playoffs. I hate to send you elsewhere, but my comrades and I will have complete playoff coverage here. Work there is going to keep me very busy, especially as long as Minnesota is alive, but I'll try to keep this updated more often than I have been (wouldn't take much).
As for the pairings, I have a few quick-hit thoughts. First off, the most interesting first-round matchup is Philadelphia vs Washington. The Capitals are white-hot, having picked up 22 points out of a possible 24 (!) in their last 12 games. Amazing run. However, Philadelphia is also playing well, going 7-2-1 in their last ten games. The physical Flyers will give Washington's skill players fits, and the goaltending matchup (Biron vs Huet) features guys who were tossed aside by other teams (Biron was in Buffalo, while Huet played for Montreal).
The worst matchup isn't Boston vs Montreal. Yes, the Bruins went oh-fer in eight games against Montreal, but they're bound to win one here. They're playing well, and the Canadiens are dealing with injuries. The worst matchup is probably Detroit vs Nashville. Dan Ellis might keep the Predators in most of the games, but they don't have a chance to win with the offense they field. Games can't end in 0-0 ties in the playoffs, and teams can't kill the clock to take their chances in a shootout.
I mean no disrespect... But I've probably watched less of this year's NCAA Tournament than ever before. It's not the NCAA's fault, as they've done nothing new to suck the life out of the event. It's not CBS' fault. Outside of a few fumbles when it comes to switching to more compelling games, I think they do a great job. Gus Johnson gets a lot of love from these folks, and most of it is warranted. Jim Nantz isn't terrible, though it drives me nuts that he thinks about how to call a major moment before it happens. Billy Packer gets way too much grief. He's sharp, insightful, and usually only crabby when he should be.
Anyway, it's not their fault the basketball has been dreadful. One out of four regional finals was interesting, and that one didn't go the right way (Kansas-Davidson). Sorry, but four number-one seeds in the Final Four isn't interesting. It might show that the best teams are there, but people don't watch the NCAA Tournament to see the best teams. They watch the NCAA Tournament to see that special Cinderella story. Cinderella isn't in San Antonio. Instead, the favorites are left, and it's not as much fun.
As for the championship game, Memphis and Kansas should provide an up-tempo affair. Both teams want to run, they have great athletes, and they can shoot the lights out. The game should be high scoring, and it should be the best game of the tournament. I like Memphis, because in my opinion, they'll have at least the two best players on the floor (Chris Douglas-Roberts and Derrick Rose ... Joey Dorsey has to fit in here somewhere, too).
(Since I said all of this, Kansas probably wins 63-44.)
Thursday, April 03, 2008
Random thoughts on things that have already happened or are about to happen. Feel free to follow along...
- Michigan is the best college hockey team I've seen as we head into the Frozen Four. North Dakota didn't play terribly well in the Midwest Regional, and I'm not confident in their chances. Boston College is fast, and their goalie doesn't appear easily rattled. Frankly, I'm not a huge Notre Dame fan, meaning they'll probably wax Michigan in the semifinals.
- Despite all the controversy, the NCAA Selection Committee did a good job. The actual selections were made for them, as they are obligated to follow the stringent criteria. The committee didn't pick Wisconsin. The system did. The only decision the committee made that could be fairly criticized was their call to protect the top two national seeds by not making them play in regionals featuring host schools. The Colorado Springs and Madison regionals had to take their host teams (CC and Wisconsin), and the committee was right to send Michigan and Miami out east to neutral regionals. Here's hoping future selection committees follow that precedent.
- Please, Washington, make the NHL playoffs. And knock out someone not named "Carolina". If Boston or Philadelphia end up golfing next week, we're all winners. For that matter, Ottawa is practically useless with how they've been playing.
- I was hoping that fun, young, exuberant Edmonton team would make it out West. It's a longshot, but it would be cool as hell to see Chicago make it. I'm not anti-Nashville, but they've yet to show me much in the postseason, despite having home-ice advantage a couple times.
- The NCAA Basketball Tournament can't afford to be boring. Basketball is just not a terribly exciting sport, and the tournament - no matter the tradition - needs some compelling storylines in order to keep the viewers around. This tournament now lacks that. No one is going to care about an all-favorite Final Four, especially when it includes traditional powers like UCLA, North Carolina, and Kansas. Memphis is the only one of the bunch that can claim to be an underdog, and it's only by default because they're from a smaller conference.
- Wisconsin's shooting woes might have blown the best chance they'll have at the Final Four under Bo Ryan. Great coach, but the style he coaches leaves the team really prone to long shooting slumps that can cost them big games. Strangely enough, when those shooting slumps happen, it seems to have a real impact on the team's normally strong free-throw shooting.
- I couldn't agree more with Michael David Smith's take on the NFL's attempt to stop the trend of players letting their hair hang out of their helmets. This is petty, stupid, and could be seen by the oversensitive crowd as being racist. I have no problem with the NFL going so far as to regulate the length of a player's socks, or the color of their shoes. That's part of a uniform. Hair is not part of a uniform. This isn't a restaurant, where problems can be had by someone letting their hair hang out and fly around everywhere. People who care about the length of players' hair have entirely too much time on their hands.
- Chris Henry is in trouble again. Shocking. This time, it cost him his job in Cincinnati, and it's worth noting it's likely to cost him his NFL career. Words cannot describe how sad it is to see someone waste their gifts because they're too stupid to stay out of trouble.
- The Phoenix Suns were widely criticized for making the trade for Shaquille O'Neal. Well, now that Shawn Marion has shut it down for the year in Miami, and O'Neal is more and more of a fit in Phoenix's wide-open attack, the trade doesn't look so stupid. The race for eighth in the West is intriguing, with Dallas suddenly fighting for a spot against Denver and Golden State. Denver is probably the least likely of the three to make it when you consider how often they get blown out (something like 15 losses by double-digits). However, they have great talent, and Dallas is reeling with Dirk Nowitzki out. Golden State is simply the most exciting team in the sport, and one has to hope they make it. In the East, nobody cares. Just like pretty much every year.
- Baseball is underway. No major stories yet, though it's nice to see teams like Tampa Bay and Washington off to good starts. However, it's just too early to tell if those teams can sustain anything positive. I think it'll be interesting to see how the National League races develop. The Mets are hardly a slam-dunk to win the East, with Philadelphia and Atlanta both potential contenders. The Nationals would like to think they can win, but I don't see them hitting enough. In the Central, everyone is picking the Cubs, but it's as if they forgot how long Milwaukee held the lead in the division last year. It's not like the Brewers are going to disappear, even if their manager is a bit of an idiot.
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
I'm around, and I apologize for ignoring this place since the Frozen Four. I'm watching baseball and relaxing right now. I'll probably check in tomorrow.
Yes, that's a threat.