There has been a longstanding perception that teams who win championships won’t have the same drive or passion to win the next season and they will be afflicted with the dreaded hangover.
The current NBA champion Golden State Warriors and Super Bowl champion New England Patriots have dispelled that theory this year with their respective undefeated starts.
However, it has been true overall the last few years in all other sports except for the NBA. San Antonio started two season ago 19-4 and Miami 17-6 the two previous years they won. In the NHL however, the Blackhawks and LA Kings went 8-8 following the seasons they won the Stanley Cup. In MLB, the previous two World Series champs the S.F. Giants started 9-13 and Boston 10-12. In the NFL, prior to the Pats, Seattle started 6-4, Baltimore 4-6 and the New York Giants 6-4.
What has emerged now as a bothersome story about Golden State is that the four regular-season games they won at the end of last season have an asterisk of sorts. The NBA says there will be two accomplishments in the record books, one for single-season winning streak and one for overall winning streak. So if Golden State wins 30 straight this season and then loses, the NBA states that the 1971-72 Lakers that went 33-0 will still have the longest winning streak of all-time. This is ridiculous. The Patriots had a 21 game winning streak across two seasons. MLB carries hitting streaks across two seasons. Regular seasons streaks are just that whether they are in one season or two.
In looking at the next 11 games for the Warriors, they have four games against winning teams. Tonight against Boston, Christmas Day hosting the guy who took his talents to South Beach, Dec. 30 at Dallas and the potential record-breaking game when they host the Charlotte Hornets. The combined record of the other seven Warriors opponents is 66-92.
Help is on the Way
Meanwhile, the current Eastern Conference top-seed Cleveland Cavaliers are about to get Kyrie Irving and Iman Shumpert back from injuries for the first time all season.
Nice job by the NBA assigning former executive Jerry Colangelo to the Philadelphia 76’ers to sort out that mess. Good “proactive stand” by the NBA to tackle this most recent problem. NBA owners only pressured Commissioner Adam Silver because ticket sales were hurting in games involving Philadelphia. In addition to having only two winning seasons in the last 11 years, the Sixers are 176 games below .500.
I will be excited to report when the Los Angeles Tankers win their first conference game while only three games behind Philadelphia in the loss column.
The Washington Capitals have been a perennial playoff contender over the last eight seasons, but never make it past the second round. This offseason, Washington acquired T.J. Oshie and playoff here Justin Williams and so far they have seemingly added the missing pieces. The Capitals are one point behind Montreal for top seed in the East but have played three less games. The Russian duo of Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov are leading the way with a combined 52 points, but it is ultimately goalie Braden Holtby who has performed like a Vezina candidate with a 17-4-1 and goals against average of 1.95.
“Thank You Kessel”
What the heck is wrong with Sid “The Kid” Crosby. He is 85th in the NHL in points and tied for 116th with six goals through 27 games. Meanwhile his Penguins are currently tied for 8th in the East with Florida and New Jersey. Call this the Curse of Phil Kessel. Kessel led the Leafs to one playoff appearance in six seasons and now he has gone on to spread his warmth and cheer to Pittsburgh while bringing the worst out of Crosby.
Not the Cuban guy
One under the radar trade so far in MLB is the Yankees shrewd acquisition infielder Starlin Castro. Castro had worn out his welcome with the Cubs and hadn’t progressed the way Epstein had envisioned but he still has upside and fills a gaping hole at second base in replacing sub .200 hitter Stephen Drew while also providing insurance for Didi Gregorius at shortstop.
Winter Meetings Winner
It appears Theo Epstein has done a nice job identifying the remaining holes for the Cubs to be a World Series contender. John Lackey gives them a proven number three pitcher behind Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta and Ben Zobrist gives them a veteran utility player who is a great locker room guy and loves playing for Manager Joe Maddon.
Meanwhile ace pitcher Johnny Cueto still doesn’t have a home and it makes sense for the LA Dodgers to step in as money is always burning a hole in their pockets. The Cardinals would also be a favored landing spot especially since they lost Lackey. Either way, Cueto won’t have the pressure of performing as an ace. He would be slotted behind Clayton Kershaw for the Dodgers and Adam Wainwright for the Cardinals and in St. Louis, he also has Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez who have ace potential.
I am concerned that the Atlanta Braves are blackmailing Arizona Diamondbacks GM and former ace pitcher Dave Stewart after the Braves acquired an enormous haul for young stud pitcher Shelby Miller. Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of Miller, but Arizona surrendered the #1 pick SS Daxby Swanson in this June’s draft, who projects to be a perennial all-star. That alone would be adequate compensation for Miller, but the D-Backs also gave up one of their top two pitching prospects Aaron Blair and another prospect outfielder who could eventually start and they control both for six and five years respectively as opposed to three for Miller.
By the way, the awful decision by former Red Sox G.M. Ben Cherington to needlessly lock up Rick Porcello in the midst of last season cost the Red Sox a chance to also land Jordan Zimmerman as he signed with Detroit this offseason for essentially the same money.
World Series Hero
A terrible omission by yours truly to be sol late in pointing out another success from the ongoing athletic pipeline at Cal State Fullerton. Kudos to Kansas City Royals World Series hero Cristian Colon who had the key hit to clinch a Royal championship.
Surprise team in NCAA
How about the George Washington Colonials taking men’s basketball by storm with an 8-1 start. Watch out Fordham and Dayton.
You have to love the parents who chose to name San Diego Chargers running back Dreamius Smith.