It has been a long-time coming, but the NBA playoffs have been more exciting than the NHL playoffs this year.
For a team that had aspirations of winning the NBA championship, the Chicago Bulls season ended with a thud. To lose three straight games to Cleveland including the final one on your home court by 23 will make it a long offseason. Tom Thibodeau no longer seems like a good fit, although he will easily find a job. Derrick Rose looks like he is finally healthy as he had an excellent series, but can you truly depend on him moving forward with his injury history? I wonder what would have happened this season with Chicago if Carmelo Anthony had gone there instead of resigning with the hapless NY Knicks.
Talk about turning back the clock. Paul Pierce was already a lock for the Hall of Fame, but if there were any doubts, he was awesome against the Hawks. He hit a game-winner in Game 3 and was 1/10 of a second away from hitting an amazing game-tying shot in Game 6 before the Wizards finally bowed to Atlanta. There has been talk of him returning to the Celtics next year since he will almost definitely not exercise his player option, but I believe he stays with the Wizards and if not, would opt for a contender knowing that next season would be his last.
The Cavs should easily dispatch the Hawks in five.
The Houston-Clippers series was tremendous, but the Clippers looked completely unprepared in Game 7 and for all the experience Doc Rivers has, his teams are not only 0-4 in road Game 7’s, but he is the only coach in NBA history to blow two 3-1 series leads. And how about the Clippers never even making it to the Western Conference Finals in their 37-year franchise history. The expansion franchise Hornets, Pelicans and Raptors are the only other NBA teams to have that distinction.
I’d say Golden State beats Houston in seven games. The Rockets have the talent to win, but Steve Kerr will outcoach Kevin McHale when it matters most which pains me to say.
Congrats to Isiah Thomas (the annoying one that used to play for the Pistons), for his new job as President of the WNBA’s New York Liberty. Now there will be an unlimited amount of women he can sexually harass. I hope the Liberty are saving because he cost the Knicks 11.6 million that was paid out to his victim.
I ask again on behalf of Joe Namath, for players to stop guaranteeing victories. I wish there was a win-loss statistic for players who have guaranteed victory since Namath successfully did it in Superbowl III.
Alex Ovechkin guaranteed a Game 7 victory in New York and despite scoring a goal, his Washington Capitals once again failed to advance past the semifinals and haven’t in 18 seasons.
Remember all of Rex Ryan’s guarantees of the Jets going to the Superbowl? How about Cavs owner Dan Gilbert guaranteeing the Cavs would win a title before LeBron won one in Miami. In 2007, during the Pats undefeated run, Steelers defensive back Anthony Smith guaranteed the Steelers would end the streak but Pittsburgh went on to lose 34-13. I guarantee the next time a player guarantees victory, no one will care.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have a chance to beat all Original 6 teams en route to winning the Stanley Cup. They beat the Red Wings in the first round, the Canadiens in the second round, are playing the New York Rangers in the third round and would play the Chicago Blackhawks in the Cup if the Hawks get by Anaheim.
Lightning GM Steve Yzerman is duplicating the business model he learned in Detroit. The Red Wings built their dynasty in the 90’s through hording Russian players and then followed it up by dominating the Swedish market. Yzerman has four dynamic young Russian players on Tampa Bay and has an overall winning foundation for years to come.
Since Montreal lost to Tampa Bay, the winningest team in NHL history has now gone 22 seasons without a Stanley Cup with only two appearances in the Conference Finals in that span.
I wonder how the Boston Bruins GM search is going?
One last hockey note, congrats to Canada on squeaking past the competition at the World Championship by going 10-0 and outscoring the opposition 66-15. By the way, Ovechkin guaranteed a loss for Russia in the gold medal game and he came through.
Okay so we are at the quarter pole in the MLB season.
What in the name of Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio is going on with the Houston Astros. They have the best record in the American League and are one game out of the best overall record in baseball. They are 25-14 overall and a staggering 12-4 on the road. To say this kind of leap was unexpected would be an understatement. In the Astros previous six seasons, they have compiled a 382-590 record and have finished a combined 184 games out of first place.
The Kansas City Royals not only don’t look hungover from last year’s surprising World Series run, but they are out to prove to everybody they are not a fluke. Fox can already taste that Royals-Astros ALCS.
As for the Red Sox, you have to go out of your way to have your #2-#6 hitters all hitting under .200 with runners in scoring position. My big question about the Red Sox these days is the lack of organizational development. From the mishandling of Will Middlebrooks (not referring to Jenny Dell here), to the shifting of positions of Xander Bogaerts last season, to the indecision of having too many outfielders and forcing a 72 million dollar player Rusney Castillo to waste away in the minors, this organization lacks clear direction. I am all for compiling assets, but once you compile them, you need to have a plan to effectively utilize them and that plan is missing. The AL East is an embarrassment and is among the worst divisions in baseball. But Sox management seems to be content with hanging around in an inferior division. I guess it beats finishing in last place again.
Jacoby Ellsbury exited the Yankees game tonight with a knee injury. He was on pace for four homers and twenty four RBI’s this season. Can they shorten the porch at Yankee Stadium even more?
The Cubs would make the playoffs as a wildcard if they started today. 106 seasons could be a distant memory.
The NFL continues to clamp down on discipline with the stiff penalty the New York Jets received for tampering. Not only did they not lose a draft pick, they weren’t even forced to switch places in a round with the Patriots.
Meanwhile, in an inteview with Charlie Rose, commissioner Roger Goodell said the Deflategate decision should be out soon. No rush Roger, only been 102 days and counting. We know you want to get it right because you have a responsibility to all 32 teams.
Tom Brady not showing up at the White House was bothersome and borderline disrespectful. However, it wasn’t because Brady is racist as Stephen A. Smith implied (a ludicrous suggestion) and it wasn’t because he is a Republican. It was because Tom Brady decided that a family event was more important. Life is about track record and Brady has exemplified leadership at every turn including being the first Patriot at offseason workouts.
Joe Haden said neither he nor his Browns teammates knew Josh Gordon wasn’t permitted to drink when they hung out together in Vegas? Tom Arnold also said that he didn’t know Roseanne Barr wasn’t allowed to eat at the Caesars Palace buffet. Michael Vick’s friends didnt know that he shouldn’t be hanging out at the local dog pound.
I’m excited to see the Eagles employ their quarterbacks this season. The competition won’t be as fierce as people imagine though because Sam Bradford got injured while I was writing this blog. Eagles executives are saying Tim Tebow has showed marked improvement since his time with the Patriots. So this means he can throw eight yards downfield?
Eli Manning will have a better year this season than his brother Peyton!
I think the Anaheim Angels might be sharing the use of some of Josh Hamilton’s substances. They trade Hamilton to Texas for a player to be named and/or some small cash considerations. This means that the Angels could still be responsible for as much as 83 of the 90 million dollars for the next three years. Wow, they really wanted to get rid of him. The signing of Hamilton will go down as one of the worst decisions if not the worst in Angels history and has set them back as a franchise enormously. This doesn’t even speak to how much they are overpaying Albert Pujols.
Major League baseball continues to be a big bore. Ask people who do Fantasy Baseball how much they would actually pay attention if fantasy didn’t exist. More important, ask them how much time they watch baseball is highlight shows and ticker updates as opposed to the actual game. If any sport could benefit from a red zone concept, it would be baseball. The changes that MLB has utilized to speed up the game, has trimmed off a whopping eight minutes.
Baseball needs villains. The ARod story is interesting because he is so easy to root against. Every sport has guys that are easy to root against or for and who are effectively promoted and celebrated by the league. In football you have Brady, Manning, Richard Sherman for example. In basketball, you have LeBron, Carmelo, Dwight Howard, Kobe and then likable guys like Anthony Davis and Steph Curry. In hockey, you have Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, P.K. Subban, any Canadiens player etc.
MLB does a poor job promoting its stars and changing its culture. However, I am really excited to see Jacob DeGrom take the mound for the best team in baseball…the New York Mets.
The Yankees are much better than people think. Yes, they just lost Tanaka for a month and who knows what they can count on from him moving forward, but after starting 3-6, they are 10-2 in the last 12, have a dominant bullpen and their hitting is coming around. Would take their roster in a heartbeat right now over Boston’s!
Speaking of the Red Sox, what a mess. They have been fortunate with some poor opponent defense and the play of Hanley Ramirez, but a lot of troubling signs. Rick Porcello and Joe Kelly will be fine but realistically are #3 and #4 starters. Clay Buchholz and Wade Miley are disasters and Justin Masterson is fine as your 5. Time for the Sox to bring up some young arms and end the Buchholz tenure. As for the hitting, Napoli has been in a huge funk, Allen Craig looks like he forgot how to play baseball and Xander Bogaerts just doesn’t seem to hit the ball that hard. Calling Cole Hamels!
If you predicted the Houston Astros would be 13-7 and the New York Mets would be 15-6 at this point, you should immediately proceed to Las Vegas.
I understand Kevin Love was frustrated and who wouldn’t have been. After toiling with Minnesota for six years and now he finally had a chance to not only participate in the playoffs but potentially contribute to winning a championship. But let’s be honest, Kelly Olynyk did not do this intentionally. Many Celtics have come to his defense and said Olynyk doesn’t have a malicious bone in his body. Well I say he doesn’t have an intentional bone in his body. He never intentionally plays defense, never intentionally gets rebounds or boxes out and never intentionally plays with any intensity or physicality. If anything, when Olynyk got tangled up with Love, it was more out of a lack of coordination or just plain frustration. One other note, Olynyk hooked Love’s arm for four seconds before a whistle was blown and if you watch the replay, you can see that Olynyk was steering Love away from the play in hopes that Bradley would grab the loose ball. By the way, if you aren’t a Celtics fan, it would be completely understandable if you didn’t know who Olynyk was.
A few other notes from that game and series. The officiating in Game 4 was horrendous and embarrassing for the league aside from the Olynyk incident. First, after Kendrick Perkins two-fisted Jae Crowder in the face, he walked toward him to initiate a fight and then after they got tangled hit him in the face again. Perkins had been in the game for a grand total of 40 seconds and he turned into Rick Mahorn. A bit player off the bench who sparks an ugly incident and isn’t ejected? What happened to keeping the game under control? If the referees had rightfully ejected Perkins, the J.R. Smith incident wouldn’t have happened and Jae Crowder doesn’t sprain his ACL and the game doesn’t deteriorate. And how could I leave out Isaiah Thomas mugging Lebron James on the inbounds at the end of the game which helped the Celtics force a turnover. Three referees on the court including the one that handed LeBron the ball and nobody saw it? The height of incompetency.
The Spurs-Clippers series has been the best series so far and Game 6 should be a doozy. The Clippers are playing their hearts out but as usual the defending NBA champs find a way to win which is why they are up 3-2. It would be nice just once if after the Clippers lose a close game, if Coach Doc Rivers didn’t blame the officials which has now become an ongoing pattern.
How about Deron Williams? Paul Pierce started the bashing and many other NBA players and media alike piled on before he woke up and dropped 35 points on the Atlanta Hawks in Game 4 to tie the series at 2-2. In his previous three games he was 7-of-26 from the field with a grand total of 18 points. For a guy that has underachieved as badly as he has since arriving in Brooklyn, he would be forgiven by a lot of his naysayers if he led the Nets to upset the Hawks in the series. The Nets, behind a rejuvenated and energized Deron Williams could potentially beat the Wizards in the next round also.
By the way, Pierce in potentially his last hurrah led the Wizards to a quick disaptch and sweep of the Toronto Raptors.
Who would have thought that Rajon Rondo would lead the Mavericks to as many playoff victories as the Celtics earned without him? Rondo will probably be forced to take a one year deal with the Lakers now to show he is not a coach killer or malcontent. With that said, his lack of boundaries, mental and emotional discipline and declining play have cost him potentially 20 to 30 million dollars at least. When a guy can’t even pretend to be a good guy or stay on his best behavior going into his free agent year, that speaks volumes.
As the Celtics head into the offseason, let’s truly assess where they are at. Jae Crowder can play for my team anytime as a sixth man. Thomas is the best guard off the bench that any team has in the NBA. Tyler Zeller is a quality backup center that GM Danny Ainge stole from Cleveland. Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley are a legitimate starting backcourt moving forward, but otherwise this team is still very far away from an NBA championship. Ainge needs to attract two marquee players and a couple of veteran big men for this team to be truly relevant. As Coach Brad Stevens said, it was a blessing to play Cleveland in the first round, because it tells the Celtics where they need to get to. Going from 30 wins to 40 wins is a lot easier than going from 40 to 50 or more.
In the name of Clyde Drexler, what kind of motivational tactics are the Portland Trailblazers using with lines like “We don’t lose to Spanish players”. Portland forward and French player Nicolas Batum took responsibility for the Blazers motivational card within the locker room saying he didn’t mean to insult anyone especially the Memphis Grizzlies Spanish center Marc Gasol. Well, as it turns out, the Grizzlies don’t seem to lose to French players as they are on the verge of knocking out Portland with a 3-1 series lead. By the way, Bob Cousy was the first French player in the NBA. The All-French team. Cousy and Tony Parker in the backcourt, Boris Diaw and Joakim Noah at forwards and the Stifle Tower Rudy Gobert at center.
Here is hoping the Tampa Bay Lightning beat Detroit in the seventh game tonight. The Lightning were 5-0 against Montreal in the regular season and that would be the second round matchup.
I have jumped on the Calgary Flames bandwagon, not just because they sent the Sedin brothers and Alex Burrows on an early vacation, but they are starting to bring back memories of the days of Theo Fleury, Gary Suter, Joe Mullen and Joe Nieuwendyk. The Flames beat Montreal to win their only Stanley Cup in 1989. In the previous 20 seasons, the Flames have missed the playoffs 12 times and been eliminated in the first round seven times. Here is the bad news. Not only do they have to play the Anaheim Ducks in the next round, but Calgary has lost 20 straight games in Anaheim.
Lastly, the St. Louis Blues continue to be a huge playoff disappointment after falling in the first round to the Minnesota Wild. In the four seasons since coach Ken Hitchcock has taken over, the Blues have had 109, 111 and 109 points respectively and the fourth shortened season (NHL lockout in 2012-13) they had 60 which was still third in the Western Conference. They have now lost in the first round three straight years and the fourth year they lost in the second round. In the last 10 years Hitchcock has coached, he has led his teams to a grand total of one playoff series victory.
I’m lucky enough to be in sunny Bahamas right now. No one here knows what hockey is although I was able to insult a few Yankees fans so that was rewarding. Speaking of the Yankees, the Sox-Yankees clash this weekend and should be a good early test for both as much as you can be tested in April.
It’s playoff time in the NHL and NBA and Boston might not have an entry in either.
In the NBA’s dreadful Eastern Conference, six teams ranging in record from 38-40 to 33-45 are fighting for the final three playoff spots. Western Conference teams Phoenix and either New Orleans or Oklahoma City, who won’t make it in the West, would make it over any of these six teams in the East and Utah would still be in the mix. The Celtics are playing the best out of the group, but have the hardest schedule. Indiana could do it because they just got Paul George back. Milwaukee should get one spot simply because they would have to completely fall apart although they are currently in the front of the line and Charlotte is unlikely because too many teams have to still lose. Brooklyn and Miami are 50-50. And surprise surprise, the defending champion San Antonio Spurs are now interested since the playoffs are drawing near, and have won nine in a row and shockingly have pulled into a tie with the Clippers and within one game of the number two seed behind the Rockets and Grizzlies.
As the NHL season winds down, the Pittsburgh Penguins are once again one of the biggest disappointments in the NHL although this time they are wearing that label in the regular season and usually wait until the playoffs. In a must-win game this past Tuesday in Ottawa, they blew a 3-0 lead and lost in overtime 4-3. Thanks to the inept and underachieving play of the Boston Bruins, all the Penguins have to do is secure two points over the final two games against the Islanders and Buffalo to secure a spot. But how the heck do the Penguins need to play to the final game to make the playoffs. What is shocking about this is they have the second and third leading scorers, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, over the past eight years. Here is how playoff success or lack thereof has looked since Crosby and Malkin have taken the NHL by storm eight years ago. One asterisk here is they both missed the playoffs in the 2010-11 season. In the other seven years, they have lost in the first round twice, the second round twice, the Eastern Conference Finals twice, the Stanley Cup once and did win one Stanley Cup. Teams are hard-pressed to find one player of Crosby and Malkin’s ilk, never mind two. And did I mention that during those eight years, Pittsburgh’s goalie Marc Andre Fleury, who was the number one overall pick in the 2003 draft, has been so disappointing in the playoffs that only two of his eight playoff performances have resulted in a GAA of 2.40 or less. Three players who are elite at their positions and all selected in the first two picks in the draft. One Stanley Cup and only two Stanley Cup appearances with that trio is almost akin to having a rotation of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and Steve Avery and winning one World Series.
Ovechkin is the leading scorer in hockey with 696 points over that span and it might surprise you that Henrik Sedin is fourth. By the way, the first Bruin to appear on the list is David Krejci who is 44th.
On the flip side, the defending Stanley Cup champion and typically overachieving LA Kings will miss the playoffs as they have struggled from a championship hangover and to be consistent all year. The Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets will make it in the West instead and provide some fresh competition. By the way, Winnipeg and the Minnesota Wild, who have been on fire since acquiring goalie Devan Dubnyk won’t be an easy out for anybody. The best first round series is shaping up to be surprising Nashville and the Chicago Blackhawks with the Predators having home ice.
Was thinking about all the praise and adulation Scott Boras gets from his clients for making them so much money. Not a lot is made when he advises his clients poorly, but one example could be New York Mets ace Matt Harvey. Harvey was drafted in 2007 originally by the Los Angeles Angels but was insulted by the signing bonus and instead opted to play at UNC for the next three seasons. Harvey was then drafted by the New York Mets in 2010. After coming up midseason in 2012, Harvey dominated in 2013 including starting the all-star game for the National League, but then approximately one year ago he blew out his arm and missed all of last season. The three years he chose to play college baseball could have been earning years for him. He was great his first start in 2015 and if he stays injury free and bounces back well, then this becomes a moot point, but otherwise not pitching those three years in the majors could have cost him millions of dollars.
I can’t say I am a huge fan of women’s college basketball, but how about those UConn Lady Huskies. They won their third straight national championship and 10th of coach Geno Auriemma’s career. The following are video game numbers. Since the 1999-00 season, not only has Auriemma guided the Huskies to nine championships, three of those seasons were UNDEFEATED and his record since that season is 544-40. Yes you read that correctly. Not remembering the last time I uttered anyone, any team or anything that was 504 games over .500.
Kudos to West Virginia’s Daxter Miles Jr. who became yet another moronic athlete of any age to guarantee victory. He did this prior to playing Kentucky and after the Mountaineers were soundly demolished in the NCAA tournament, Miles hid in the bathroom after the game to avoid talking to the media until an assistant coach forced him to face the music. I wish there was a stat keeping track of how many times athletes guaranteed victory and it backfired . More to the point, not sure if everyone else feels this way, but if a Boston athlete guaranteed victory (which I can’t remember happening since Larry Bird, who incidentally always backed it up) I would be annoyed and when a player from another team does it, I am guaranteed to root against him.
Interesting to see Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger both restructure their contract to save their respective teams money under the cap. Looks like they felt some peer pressure from colleague Tom Brady. Maybe Drew Brees should be the next to follow suit and correct his 26.4 million dollar cap number.
I have always been a huge fan of sports nicknames especially with the heavy influence of ESPN’s Chris Berman. I mean who didn’t like Bert “Be Home” Blyleven or Bruce “Two Minutes for” Ruffin. But I think I have finally heard one of my all-time favorites. Utah Jazz emerging star shot-blocking center Rudy Gobert is French and nicknamed “The Stifle Tower”.
I end with a trivia question and no cheating by googling the answer. There have been four players in NBA history who have 13,000 points, 9000 rebounds, 3,0000 assists, 1200 steals and 1600 blocked shots – Kareem Abdul Jabaar, Hakeem Olajuwon, Kevin Garnett and who is the fourth? Leave your guess in the blog comment section. The winner gets to go cliff diving with Tom Brady.
A few thoughts as we gear up for the start of the 2015 MLB season.
The Boston Red Sox have had a somewhat bizarre offseason. They have seemingly loaded up on offense, could have the best 1-6 hitters in baseball if things fall right, but have no #1 or possibly #2 starter, have a 40-year-old closer Koji Uehara, who looked tired and ineffective the final months of last season and a bullpen that has some undefined roles and potentially a lot of mediocrity. I have always been a huge fan of compiling assets, but those assets seem to represent redundancy while leaving too many holes. The Red Sox have the best young prospects in baseball and have trade chips aplenty but here are the things I question most heading into the season:
1. The Red Sox declined to resign Jon Lester because of his age and potential decline. Yet, they opted to resign Uehara for 2 years and 18 million instead of resigning Andrew Miller for four years and 36 million despite the fact that Miller is a lefty, is in the prime of his career and is clearly trending upward. Miller went to the Yankees and this decision will be one the Sox sorely regret.
2. The Sox signed Rusney Castillo to a seven year-72 million contract last season. Who signs a player to an average salary of 10 million plus and then can’t find a place in the starting lineup for him? Shane Victorino was named the starter but not on merit and solely based on his past success and the likelihood that he will be a clubhouse problem and become petulant if he is coming off the bench.
3. Xander Bogaerts. I am a big fan and believer, but if he stumbles and he will get a huge leash, the Red Sox have a big hole at SS offensively and defensively. If the rumblings start midway through the season of moving Hanley Ramirez back to SS, that will create a whole new set of problems.
It will be interesting to see how former Red Sox player Will Middlebrooks does in San Diego considering it is not a good hitter’s park. If Middlebrooks does well, he hit .333 in spring training, and it proves out that the Red Sox panicked and gave up too quick, then the 95 million dollars spent on Pablo Sandoval will look bad. However, in light of the Sox losing Christian Vazquez, acquiring Ryan Hanigan for Middlebrooks could help save some face.
Speaking of the Padres, they are one of the most intriguing teams to watch heading into the season. Justin Upton and Matt Kemp have a chance to rebound for big years. Wil Myers and Will Middlebrooks get out from under the pressure of their previous teams and if either or both can perform effectively, the Padres could be a force to be reckoned with. San Diego also acquired all-star catcher Derek Norris, ace pitcher James Shields who should thrive in San Diego and they took minor risks on Brandon Morrow and Josh Johnson.
The Kris Bryant – Chicago Cubs saga is getting all too repetitive. So the Cubs sent him down to the minors so they could secure an extra year of service time and delay him going to free agency and having to deal with uber-agent Scott Boras. All Bryant did in spring training was hit nine home runs, knock in 15 runs and hit .425 in 40 at bats. Those are Stephen Drew’s power numbers over the last two season coupled with a batting average approximately 300 points less. The players association agreed to this rule and every time a team exploits it, there is an uproar. Next time the collective bargaining agreement comes due, surely this issue will be addressed. However, the Cubs have a potentially contending team for the first time in God knows how long and more importantly, their fans can say the word playoffs without breaking out in laughter. If at the end of the season, the Cubs miss the playoffs by one to three games, everyone will be asking if Kris Bryant could have made the difference and for a team that hasn’t won since… well let’s just say the last time they won: a loaf of bread was five cents, a gallon of milk was 32 cents and a gallon of gas was 11 cents, having another year of service time might not be worth losing a playoff spot.
And how could I finish baseball without discussing the Bronx Bombers. Anytime you go into the season thinking this could be our year if Mark Teixeira bounces back and stays healthy, Alex Rodriguez stays healthy and doesn’t implode, Carlos Beltran stays healthy and bounces back, Tanaka’s elbow holds up, Sabathia’s arm doesn’t fall off from overuse or from holding up his belly and Michael Pineda can stay healthy and fulfill his previous vast potential, you can’t feel good. The only lock on this team offensively might be Jacoby Ellsbury and let’s face it, he is so overdue to get hurt.
Too bad the New York Mets lost Zack Wheeler for the year because it would have been great to see Matt Harvey and Wheeler as a 1-2 punch.
As MLB gears up, the NBA and NHL regular seasons wind down.
As usual the Western Conference holds all the intrigue and excitement. Not thinking too many people are breathlessly awaiting how far the Atlanta Hawks or Toronto Raptors go in the playoffs. The Western Conference should ultimately come down to the Warriors and Clippers. LA has the talent, athleticism and coaching to stay with Golden State, but I am not sure the IQ is there and I truly believe Golden State could be a team of destiny this season as they have virtually no weakness. Everybody still has to get by San Antonio of course but seeing Stephen Curry and the young gun Warriors in the Finals would be refreshing to say the least. By the way, six of the top seven teams in the NBA are in the Western Conference.
Congrats to Phil Jackson on a brilliant first season with the Knicks guiding them to the worst season in franchise history as they are currently 14-61. I wonder if it was a big deal in losing out on getting Steve Kerr to coach the team and settling for Derek Fisher?
I pointed out in my last blog how much more successful the Celtics have performed post-Rondo and how much less successful the Mavs have performed. What seems to be the hidden gem from that trade though is Jae Crowder. He is a jack of all trades and a player Danny Ainge insisted on. Crowder can rebound, pass, shoot from the outside and defend any of the frontcourt positions despite being only 6’6’’.
With all the struggles Kevin Love continues to have in Cleveland and the steady improvement Andrew Wiggins is having in Minnesota, perhaps Cleveland wishes they could rethink that trade. But if Love leaves after this season or doesn’t live up to his potential come playoff time than that failed trade is on LeBron because Cleveland doesn’t pull the trigger on that without LeBron cajoling management.
I am about 50% over losing Darelle Revis and have two other thoughts. First, I thought it was telling last week that Revis felt the need to point out that the Patriots offer wasn’t in the ballpark. This was heavily reported after he decided to resign with the Jets anyway so this was hardly news. What Revis intentionally chose not to address was whether he would have resigned with the Patriots if the offer was in the ballpark. I maintain the Patriots didn’t make a competitive offer because they felt his heart was with the Jets all along and they didnt want to be embarrassed and match the Jets and still lose the player. On the flip side, if the Pats could have resigned him, but they were thinking towards next season when they will have to address the contracts of Donta Hightower, Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins, then shame on them. Jones has been injury prone and inconsistent, Hightower is overrated and Collins looks very promising, but why not keep the proven commodity at a position that is virtually impossible to find a stud.
Can’t wait until MLB umpires start issuing delay of game warnings.
World Series prediction:
Washington Nationals win it all and beat the Baltimore Orioles in the Beltway Series.
Just reading an article on ESPN about the Pittsburgh Pirates potentially having the best outfield in baseball this season with Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco. The Pirates outfield trio seems to have some pretty good ancestry in the names of Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonilla and Andy Van Slyke or Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell and Matty Alou.
As we are now only a few weeks away from opening day, this got me thinking of some of the best all time outfield combinations in the history of baseball.
Leave a comment and rank your top 3 outfields of all time (these are randomly listed):
1994-96 Cleveland – (here is what they all averaged: Albert Belle: .328 – 45 HR’s and 125 RBI. Kenny Lofton – .326 – 108 runs and 63 SB’s. Manny Ramirez (’94 rookie season) .290 – 27 HR’s and 101 RBI’s.
1915 – Detroit – The outfield consisted of Bobby Veach in left, Ty Cobb in center, and Sam Crawford in right. The league batting average was only .248 that year, but Cobb hit .369 with 99 RBIs and 144 runs, Crawford hit .313 and drove in 112 runs, and Veach hit .299 with 112 RBIs. The three Detroit outfielders ranked #1, #2, and #3 in total bases and RBIs. The outfield has been ranked the greatest outfield of all time by baseball historian Bill James.
1894 – Phillies – Sam Thompson .407, 141 RBI, 177 OPS, Billy Hamilton .404, 192 Runs, 158 OPS, Ed Delahanty .407, 131 RBI, 159 OPS and 4th OF Tuck Turner hit .416 in 339AB
1927 – Yankees – Babe Ruth, Earle Combs, Bob Meusel: had a total bWAR of 23.5, the best of any starting outfield in history, as far as I can tell. Their average OPS(1.028) and average OPS+ (167) were also the best of any starting outfield. Ruth was 32, Combs 28, and Meusel 30.
1961 – Yankees – Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Yogi Berra: This trio had 137 HR’s, best of any starting OF. We all know about Mantle & Maris, but Berra had a pretty good year for a 36 year old converted catcher.
1979- Red Sox – Fred Lynn, Jim Rice, Dwight Evans: Rice was 26, and Lynn and Evans both 27. It sounds like all three players were in their prime, but Evans was the rare played who reached his peak later in his career (he really broke through at age 29) or else this group would rank higher, if Evans had a normal career arc. Average OPS+ was 148.
1927 – Washington – Tris Speaker- Sam Rice- Goose Goslin one of two Hall of Fame outfield of regulars in modern era
1923-24 – Detroit – Ty Cobb- Harry Heilmann- Heinie Manush one of two Hall of Fame outfield of regulars in modern era
Fun groups to remember but not the best ever:
70’s Giants – Willie Mays, Bobby Bonds and Ken Henderson
1980 Oakland A’s – Rickey Henderson, Dwayne Murphy and Tony Armas
2003 – Atlanta – Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones, Gary Sheffield
1968 – Detroit – Willie Horton, Mickey Stanley, Jim Northrup and Al Kaline
1991- Oakland – Rickey Henderson, Dave Henderson and Jose Canseco
1990 – Pittsburgh – Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonilla, Andy Van Slyke
Toronto – George Bell, Lloyd Moseby and Jesse Barfield
Montreal – Tim Raines, Warren Cromartie and Andre Dawson
Honorable Mention to the 2014 Boston Red Sox:
Jackie Bradley, Daniel Nava, Mike Carp and Jonny Gomes – seriously might be one of the worst ever!
My pick for the top 3 are as follows:
3. The 1994-96 Indians. Albert Belle (headaches and baggage) was one of the most feared and all-around dominant hitters during that stretch. Kenny Lofton is no worse than one of the top 10 leadoff hitters of all time and Manny Ramirez is one of the best pure all-around hitters ever to combine batting average, on-base percentage and power.
2. The 1915 Tigers simply because the performance of that outfield was so far and above the league average that season and that to me is one of the single most important criteria in evaluating baseball performance.
1. The 1894 Phillies. I mean all four outfielders hit over .400 and the 4th outfielder had 339 AB’s. This will never happen again and is simply beyond reality.
Let me know if I failed to recognize any outfields.
Aretha Franklin knew what she was talking about. The definition of respect is a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements. Theoretically, we all strive to show people respect, however, just how to show that respect seems to be a moving target. For some, financial gain or promotion, others it’s a pat on the back or being acknowledged for your hard work, dedication or success in any variety of ways. But the professional athlete is a whole different animal. Their definition of respect changes frequently and is very often defined by sports agents, insecurity or a posse that easily influences the athlete’s thought process.
Pablo Sandoval says he didn’t feel respected by the San Francisco Giants and hence signed a deal with the Boston Red Sox. Sandoval said the Giants disrespected his agent but declined going into detail. The Giants were not only willing to match the Red Sox offer this offseason, they were willing to exceed 100 million. Sandoval went on to say “If you want me around, you make the effort to push and get me back”. Sandoval played seven years and won three rings for the Giants and was a fan favorite. He has gone out of his way to bash the Giants and says he will only miss manager Bruce Bochy and Hunter Pence. What else could the Giants have done to show Sandoval respect? No one knows for sure, but athletes often behave like little children because in many cases they are pampered growing up and never fully mature. If Sandoval truly felt disrespected, go to the Giants, communicate the problem and resolve it instead of taking the easy way out and disparaging your former employer and making yourself look petulant in the process.
The AFC East teams have been perennial whipping boys for the Patriots, but I believe the Miami Dolphins are much closer to catching the Patriots than people give them credit for. Adding Ndamakong Suh will give them a toughness and attitude they have sorely lacked and the defensive front for Miami could be the best in football. Ryan Tannehill has been in the league four years and threw for 27 TD’s and 12 picks last season and continues to show signs of improvement. The Jets will be dominant on defense perhaps among the top three units in the league and if offensive coordinator Chan Gailey can work his magic with Ryan Fitzpatrick like he did in Buffalo, things could get interesting. I pick Buffalo for last. As of now, the Patriots look to have the worst defense in the division this year and that should be alarming to everyone because defense wins.
What the heck are the Kansas City Chiefs doing signing receiver Jeremy Maclin as a free agent? No Chiefs receiver has caught a touchdown since 2013 and Alex Smith can’t throw the ball consistently past eight yards anyway. Maclin might stretch the field but Jamaal Charles might have to tip the ball forward for Maclin to catch it.
Why is it DeMarco Murray was only great because the Cowboys had a great offensive line? I don’t remember hearing people saying that when Emmitt Smith played behind a ridiculously good offensive line. As a matter of fact, I would argue that Emmitt Smith has probably been the biggest beneficiary of any running back in the last 25-30 years by putting up amazing stats because of a great O-line. I think the Cowboys are going to very much regret him moving to the Eagles. I’m not thinking Lance Dunbar or Joseph Randle are winning the rushing title any time soon.
Amazing what is happening with the Boston Celtics right now. They are 7-3 in the last 10 and realistically should be 9-1. In two of those losses to Golden State and Orlando, they blew 20 plus point leads and the only other loss was in Cleveland who has the best record in the NBA since Jan. 15 at 21-5. The Celtics starting five for those of you wondering are Tyler Zeller (acquired for nothing by Boston so the Cavs could get cap room to acquire LeBron James), Evan Turner, the second pick in the 2010 draft who was happily discarded by Philly and Indiana, Brandon Bass, who has been a backup on good teams and desperate starter on bad ones and the guards are Avery Bradley and rookie Marcus Smart. Not only is Avery Bradley the highest paid player in that group at a mere seven million, but the total salaries of the Celtics starters is slightly over 22 million which is cumulatively less than Kobe Bryant, Joe Johnson????? And Carmelo Anthony. Coach Brad Stevens had his first winning month in February since taking over by going 7-4 and has every player on this team contributing in one way or another and playing hard. The coaching acumen and motivational skills that Stevens is starting to show are exactly what GM Danny Ainge had envisioned when he lured him from Butler.
The Celtics remaining schedule has 19 games left including two games against Cleveland and Toronto and games against the Clippers, Spurs and Thunder. The other 12 games are very winnable. By the way, prior to trading Rajon Rondo the Celtics were 9-14 and are 18-22 since. Dallas was 19-8 and is 22-17 since.
Montreal, Tampa Bay, NY Rangers, Nashville, Anaheim, and St. Louis all have between 89 and 91 points right now to lead the NHL. There is no clear cut favorite this year heading into the playoffs and the two most consistent playoff performers (LA Kings and Chicago) are lurking. The Kings though would not make it as of now despite their most recent push.
Don’t look now but early reports on Alex Rodriguez look promising.
So Darelle Revis is a New York Jet again. Is it really a surprise? Revis has never really disguised who he was and that was never more evident than before he signed with the Patriots last season.
Revis received credit for taking a discount affording him a chance to win a Superbowl, but the truth is, even last season he wanted the most money, to go to the city and home he loved most and to become a member of the Jets. The first thing he did when he became a free agent was to have his agents reach out to…guess who… the New York Jets. Revis even commented last year prior to signing with the Patriots that he had a hard time envisioning playing for the Patriots after previously playing for the Jets. The Jets foolishly rebuffed his advances in an Idina Menzel – John Travolta kind of way and so Revis was left with Plan B. At that point, why not bet on yourself (two years removed from major surgery) and go to a Superbowl contender and build up your market value while proving you are the best or one of the best again. Both the Patriots and Revis used each other.
Revis could have received more money this year if he was willing to entertain offers from the Raiders or other downtrodden teams, but ultimately, the fully guaranteed money, his ego and the new challenge dictated the decision. This was about the Jets commitment to fully guaranteeing 39 million where apparently the Pats wouldn’t do the full guarantee or match the money according to a Boston Globe report. It was about going back to New York and being the face of the franchise, the savior and avail himself to the loads of endorsement opportunites to boot.
And lastly, I believe it was about the challenge of dethroning the big fish or champion. Many athletes want to join a team that is on the verge of a championship but for some, it is very enticing to knock the king off the mountain. Revis now has the opportunity to be an icon in New York and dethrone the very team that gave him his only Superbowl ring even if it conceivably will take a few years to accomplish. As much as I don’t like to give LeBron James credit, when he opted to return to Cleveland, he accepted the challenge in a city that hasn’t won a championship since 1964 and really had the option to go anywhere.
As for the Patriots and the fan base, I am baffled by the blind faith and loyalty to Bill Belichick and “The Patriots Way”. This notion that regardless of what decision the Patriots make, it has to be right because Belichick knows best is naïve and troubling. By the way, I happen to like Belichick, feel fortunate that he is the coach for the team I root for, and think he might be the best of all time. With that said, any great leader makes mistakes and bad decisions at times and Belichick frankly has a laundry list of them especially on the GM side of his job. But those bad decisions are always discounted because the Patriots are always in the hunt for a Superbowl.
Here are some things to consider when evaluating the Patriots and their decision:
A questionable personnel decision last season. How about signing Darelle Revis last year instead of Aqib Talib? Talib was signed for six years but only three years and 27 million not fully guaranteed. Byron Maxwell, a decent cornerback from Seattle was just signed for six years but three years and 25 million not fully guaranteed. Talib was tremendous for Denver this past year and stayed healthy. Do the Patriots not win a Superbowl if they had Talib over Revis this past season? More important, how would the Patriots be sitting the next two years with Talib on the roster and owed 15 million and being an elite corner versus Kyle Arrington being your number one corner right now? Is Revis seven million per year in cap space and 12 million more in guaranteed money better than Talib? Not quite sure about that. Would you trade Revis for Talib and a player that earns seven million annually in the NFL? I think you would. The Pats knew the risk and what they were getting into when they signed a guy like Revis and the second year of the contract he signed last year shouted that.
All four Superbowls the Patriots have won, they have had a great secondary with Lawyer Milloy, Ty Law, Rodney Harrison and Revis anchoring those teams. Without dominant secondary play, zero Superbowls.
There are certain positions/people that can be irreplaceable in sports. In baseball, ace pitchers and leadoff hitters are difficult to come by (see Jon Lester) and (see Jacoby Ellsbury) although I agree with both decisions to not re-sign them. In football, you have quarterback and cornerback. In basketball, you have point guard and more likely the center position. In hockey, you have goalie or a six foot nine defenseman named Zdeno Chara.
When juggling salary caps and personnel decisions, the cost of replacement, available alternatives and intangible team value just can’t be ignored. Revis for example impacted the whole defense by covering up shortcomings in certain areas. How much is that worth to a football team? I would say significantly more than market value. In this case, the Pats look to have no available alternatives, didn’t effectively evaluate the cost of replacement all to stick with a rigid and stubborn approach to negotiating contracts and stubborn management. Part of me thinks that the reason the Patriots didn’t fully guarantee the money or go above 35 million is out of ego and pride because they feel that to have the “privilege” of playing for the Patriots, one should have to take a discount. I get not setting precedents and how it impacts the rest of your roster, but Revis was a rare breed.
When I evaluate elite level players and coaches, I often envision them in different situations or environments and predict how successful they would be. For example, when comparing Brady and Peyton Manning over the years, I ask myself if they switched teams, how would each have fared? If Brady was the quarterback of the Colts and Broncos and had Manning’s weapons at his disposal, there is no doubt he would have won more than one Superbowl and Manning never would have won four with the Pats. I look at Pat Riley who has proven to be a championship coach with the Lakers and then recreated his success as an executive with the Miami Heat. Lastly, I look at Phil Jackson who had the ridiculously good fortune to work with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen with the Chicago Bulls and Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal with the Los Angeles Lakers. Eleven championships are hard to debate, however, he has had the two most dominant tandems to coach in this generation. Now Jackson is an executive for the New York Knicks and it has only been one year, but I think we can all attest to how that’s going so far. By the way, isn’t it great how far I can stretch in a blog to put down the Knicks.
That leaves us with Belichick. When we look back at Belichick’s legacy, how much of it is due to having Tom Brady at his disposal? Could Belichick’s personnel moves and coaching strategy succeed anywhere? He wasn’t successful in Cleveland and he will probably finish his coaching career in New England so I don’t think we will ever see a third opportunity for him.
One thing is for certain however with Revis gone, the Pats are now on an island by themselves.
Kevin Stallings, head coach of the Vanderbilt Commodores, missed a golden opportunity this week to not only make an important point, but set an example for athletes of all ages in regards to sportsmanship. After Vanderbilt beat the Tennessee Volunteers, Vandy player Wade Baldwin IV was seen clapping his hands in the face of Vols player Armani Moore. Stallings was informed of this by a Vols staff member. Stallings went off on Baldwin during the post-game handshake and berated him for his lack of sportsmanship. This was not the first time Baldwin has been involved in an incident of this nature. Unfortunately, he ended the tirade with “I am going to bleeping kill you.” It was actually nice to see a player being called out for poor sportsmanship as this is incredibly rare at least publicly in sports, but Stallings clearly went too far and that kind of outburst should cause us all to speculate about possible anger management problems for the Vandy coach. Coaches like Bobby Knight, Bob Huggins and Frank Martin should have taught us all a lesson.
One of the sure signs an athlete can’t control his anger is when that athlete (Rajon Rondo) in this case, can’t control his personality or frustration even though he knows it will perpetuate his image and directly impact his earning potential in the offseason. Typically, athletes are on their best behavior when it is a contract year. We all know the resume of Rondo. Difficult to coach, intensely competitive, high basketball IQ. But since he has joined Dallas, the Mavericks have not improved, his statistics have declined despite significantly more talent around him and now this blowup on the sidelines with Rick Carlisle. Apparently, Rondo was getting a lot of attention from Carlisle when he first arrived, but then when Amar’e Stoudemire arrived, Carlisle wasn’t paying as much attention to Rondo and this ruffled Rajon’s feathers. When Rondo is engaged, he is one of the most creative and exciting players in the league but Dallas has joined Boston in learning the hard way the baggage that comes with it.
LeBron James has a new source of stress. Colleges are already recruiting his 10-year old son. Is James upset because he thinks that is out-of-bounds or because he skipped college himself and sees college as unnecessary or maybe both? Recruiting has been out of hand for some time now and the limits are tested constantly. From the NCAA handbook: “In men’s basketball, a coaching staff member may observe an individual who has not entered the seventh grade participating in an athletically related activity, provided such observation occurs during a period when it is permissible to evaluate prospective student-athletes.” I’m getting a little nervous we are going to start seeing college and NBA scouts at the local Skyzone or Boys and Girls Club. The way the rule is written invites poor judgment and illicit behavior.
Russell Westbrook is having a truly dominant season for Oklahoma City and became only the second player (Michael Jordan) in 27 seasons to have 20 points, 10 assists and 5 rebounds in five or more straight games. He is averaging 27 ppg, 7 rebounds and 8 assists per game on the season and has led the Thunder to a 9-3 record over the last 12 games. Westbrook has outperformed Kevin Durant in all three statistical categories.
What in the world were the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim thinking when they signed Josh Hamilton to a five year 125 million dollar contract? The contract by the way includes a no-trade clause, access to a luxury suite and incentives that can add up to another almost million because realistically who can survive on 25 million per year alone? Hamilton suffered yet another drug and alcohol release this offseason. Hamilton took off from 2002-2006 due to a litany of personal and chemical dependency problems and one of the conditions of his reinstatement was that he undergo drug testing three times per week. He had alcohol relapses in 2009 and 2012 and has frequently discussed (understandably) what a difficult battle this was for him. The Angels signed Albert Pujols for 10 years and 240 million in 2011 and Hamilton in 2012 and 365 million dollars later, the Angels have some big regrets.
Can athletes who make obvious individual mistakes stop pointing to themselves after the play and stop saying “My bad”? We know it’s your bad because we just saw it play out in front of our own eyes. How about taking some accountability when we don’t automatically know it’s your fault? For instance, we often don’t know in football whose fault it is when there is an interception or an incomplete pass because we don’t know whether the receiver ran the wrong route or the quarterback made a bad decision. Or how about in basketball when a player didn’t know the play being run. That’s when I want to know whose bad it is!
I know this is a topic that was decided on a long time ago but every time I think about this… I can’t believe you get a point in hockey when you lose. So for those of you who aren’t familiar, by accomplishing the amazing feat of bringing the game to overtime or the shootout (if no one scores in the five minute overtime), you are awarded one point. This was done of course for parity and so more teams have playoff chances which of course helps sell tickets. Winnipeg and L.A. lead the NHL with a whopping 12 overtime or shootout losses. So if they just counted as losses, the Kings would be 29-32 and six points out of a playoff spot and be the 10th seed as opposed to the eighth seed. The worst part is this rule allows an accepted strategy to at least walk away with a point and completely can alter the way a team approaches the third period of a hockey game. Can you imagine if MLB said, hey good job going into extra innings, we will give you a half a win for that or some kind of extra credit? The only thing worse than this is when kids get trophies for participation in sports!
Interesting trade in the NHL where Columbus trades former Bruin Nathan Horton (who probably will never suit up again) to the Maple Leafs for salary cap anchor David Clarkson. Apparently the logic here was for Toronto, they get salary cap relief and would rather have a cap hit of 2.5 million for someone who never plays than an approximately 5 million dollar cap hit for someone who does? So Toronto didn’t even think Clarkson was worth the extra 2.5 million to suit up. For Columbus, they feel that for 2.5 million Clarkson is worth it. Toronto will take any kind of relief.
Don’t forget the cricket doubleheader front and center on ESPN today as perennial rivals Sri Lanka takes on England followed by the clash of Zimbabwe and Pakistan.
The Red Sox allegedly outbid 11 other teams to land Cuban prize Yoan Moncada. Some scouts are calling him the next Robinson Cano and the Yankees were rumored to be the top threat to sign him based on their dire middle infield needs. The Sox have now spent over 300 million dollars in the last year on Pablo Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez, Moncada and fellow Cuban Rusney Castillo. It seems like one year ago, Sox executive Larry Lucchino was boasting about how the Sox aren’t like the Yankees and don’t need to spend big money on free agency to build their team after the Yankees had spent close to 400 million on Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and Masahiro Tanaka. Thanks Larry for setting the record straight.
Not sure I have ever seen a goalie take two minor penalties within six seconds and have a goal scored in between like what happened Sunday when Tuukka Rask accomplished this feat against the Blackhawks. The first penalty was for delay of game and the second was for slashing after he was frustrated when he allowed the goal.
Can’t wait to see the results of the Wonderlic tests from the NFL Combine. Or better yet, who had the fastest 40 yard dash time?
No Patriots fan should feel at ease until they know the fate of whether Darrelle Revis will return.
World B. Free meets Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf meets Kareem Abdul Jabaar. Things are looking up for Braves outfielder Melvin Upton Jr. formerly BJ Upton Jr. After hitting .226 over the sample size of the last five years, B.J. had identified the problem as having the wrong name which caused his batting average to plummet. Perhaps his brother Justin should change his name to Melvin also.
By the way, when former UCLA running back Sharmon Shah changed his name to Kareem Abdul Jabaar, it was great irritating LA fans by calling the former Lakers center Sharmon Shah so there would be no confusion on who the real Jabaar is.
The NBA trade deadline doesn’t seem to have the same luster when Goran Dragic is the most exciting player being moved.
Austin Rivers had 28 points for the Clippers last Saturday night in their win over Sacramento.
The race for the 8th and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference is ratcheting up so much so though that the NFC South is getting very jealous. Brooklyn is currently holding the 8th spot with a sparkling 22-31 record but have no fear, Charlotte, Detroit, Indiana and Boston are right on their heels at 11 and 12 games under .500. Adam Silver has it right when he talks about revamping the playoff format, as just like Carolina in the NFL, it is embarrassing for a sports league to field a playoff team that is nine games under .500 especially when there are two other teams (Phoenix, New Orleans) that are over .500.
Never thought I would see the day when Golden State was 43-9 and New York was 10-44.
Great to see Kevin Garnett close out his career in Minnesota. After all the acrimony with owner Glen Taylor when he was originally traded, he has the opportunity to mentor a tremendous amount of young talent in Andrew Wiggins, Ricky Rubio and Zach LaVine (slam dunk champion) among others. Hopefully Garnett calls it a career though at the end of this season as he is a shadow of his former self and when his frustration led to head-butting Dwight Howard last month, time to hang it up.
Why would the Celtics acquire a guy that ruined the CBA, dismantled the Knicks organization and threw one of the worst passes in NBA playoff history to Larry Bird? Oh that is the other Isiah Thomas! Seems like a good acquisition on the surface for the Celts, but a little concerning that teams keep getting rid of such a potent sparkplug and scorer off the bench. Specifically, Phoenix who had just signed him to a four-year deal and now looked to get rid of him in year one of that deal.
As Tiger Woods struggles and injuries continue to mount, he might have reached rock bottom when Josh Scobee challenged him to play $100,000 per hole at the San Jose Country Club. For those of you who don’t know who Josh Scobee is (unless you do fantasy football and even then you might not know since he is in the bottom tier of kickers), he is the Jacksonville Jaguars kicker. Is this how desperate Jacksonville is to get in the news? Next thing you know we will see Stephen Gostkowski challenging Michael Phelps in the 100m breaststroke or Ali-Haji-Sheikh (for you Giants fans) challenging Floyd Mayweather.
Watch out for India in the World Cricket Cup. My scouting team tells me they are definitely the favorite.
Can we stop the duck boat parades already for Boston championships? Do fans really enjoy standing for hours in one spot so they can waive to players as they go by? Remember the rallies at City Hall Plaza for the Celtics in the 80’s and the Superbowl rally where Robert Kraft was dancing and goofing with the players in February of 2002. Heck, Larry Bird proclaimed in 1981 that Moses (Malone) does eat bleep! The crowd roared and for a great memory. Fans want to hear from the players. If safety and practicality truly prevent the rallies at City Hall Plaza anymore, than move the Pats celebration to Gillette Stadium or the Sox to Fenway Park or at least end the celebrations at a central rallying point. The Bruins did a version of that in 2011.
Enough about Pablo Sandoval’s weight. Look what happened to C.C. Sabathia when he tried to lose weight. If there was ever a sport where you could get away without being in shape, baseball is it and he has proven himself successful while playing with that weight. Look at Bartolo Colon and Prince Fielder. Ok maybe not Prince Fielder.
Did you see the look on Alex Rodriguez when he wrote his apology?
The win over Chicago doesn’t change the fact that the Boston Bruins are an unmitigated disaster. It has very little to do with injuries and players slumping and what it mostly has to do with is a stubborn coach who the players are now tuning out and a General Manager who has done a below average job drafting, overestimated the players on his roster, and allowed the roster to grow stale by not incorporating the appropriate turnover. Chiarelli is adding insult to injury by putting players like David Pastrnak and Malcolm Subban into a dysfunctional and downtrodden situation which if allowed to linger, can hamper a player’s development. You can survive a lot in sports, but bad team chemistry, lack of confidence among teammates and the coach throwing players under the bus on a routine basis will not work. A blockbuster is needed at the deadline.
Even with the loss of stud goaltender Pekka Rinne, the Nashville Predators still have the best record in hockey. The bad news is the reward for that could be a first round matchup with the defending Stanley Cup champion and all of the sudden red-hot L.A. Kings.
Sports Cheater of the week: Joe Johnson for stealing from Brooklyn Nets ownership.
Johnson is the second highest paid player in the league and is still owed three years and 70 million. All this for the 45th leading scorer in the NBA.