Monday, April 30, 2012

Weekend Observations

Without question the biggest sotry of the weekend is the injury to MVP point guard Derrick Rose.  Rose tore his ACL in the final minute of the Bulls win over Philadelphia and will be sidelined for nine months.  The injury all but guarantees the Miami Heat will win the Eastern Conference and decimates Team USA going into the Olympics.  Without their starting point guard and center the gold medal is no longer a foregone conclusion.

  The more serious question however is how the injury will affect the career and legacy of Derrick Rose.  As we all know most players don't return from this injury with the same explosiveness as before the injury.  Tim Hardaway and Chris Paul changed their games successfully, but so much of Rose's game is about quickness and athleticism it's hard to say if he will be able to make the same adjustments.  It's all speculation of course and I'm not a doctor so I have my fingers crossed Derrick Rose will come back good as new.  The league desperately needs him.  Here are some other observations over the weekend.

Apparently the NBA refs don't understand the meaning of playoff intensity.  The games are going to be more physical and the players are going to express themselves more.  The refs are oversensitive and their attitude is affecting the outcome of games.  David Stern should have a talk with them.

Kevin Durant added playoff game winning shot to his basketball resume and I for one couldn't be happier for him.  Of course the Sonic fan in me wants to cry like a little girl and throw rocks at Clay Bennett's house.  Something tells me KD will make me feel this way again before the playoffs is over.

My man Chris Polk got the short end of the stick during the NFL draft this weekend.  20 running backs were picked before him and Polk had to settle for a free agent contract from the Philadelphia Eagles.  Good news is he goes to a team with Super Bowl aspiriations.  Bad news is he lost millions of dollars in the process.

The Washington Huskies were stingy on defense in their spring game this Satrurday.  Given the problems the defense has had in the past this is a good sign for the future.  If they can shut down Keith Price and Austin Seferian-Jenkins it should be a promising season.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Draft Day Drama

I never attended a Seattle Seahawks draft day party until yesterday.  Usually I sit around with a couple of friends (real football know it alls) and critique the picks one by one.  I had no idea what to expect so when I entered the venue and saw thousands of rabid Seahawk fans decked out in their favorite player's jersey I started to get pumped up.  I wanted the Hawks to pick the tackling machine out of Boston College, but Carolina snagged him with the 9th pick.  I was hoping Dontari Poe would still be available, but the Chiefs picked him up one spot in front of us.  When it was announced Seattle traded their pick to Philadelphia I started to get nervous.

The crowd was buzzing with anticipation as the Seahawks were on the clock and no one really knew which direction the team would go in.  When the commissioner called the name of Bruce Irvin you could hear a pin drop in that place.  Everyone was in shock wondering what the hell Pete Carroll was doing.  I watch a lot of football and I never heard of the guy so I was deeply concerned.  After doing my research I realized the pick was pure genius.

Bruce Irvin was the best pass rusher in the draft (something the Seahawks desperately need) and ran a 4.4 at the scouting combine.  His draft position fell because of some off the field issues, but most of that stuff happened in high school.  Irvin is a guy coach Carroll recruited at USC so he knows this kid inside and out.  This is exactly why the Seahawks hired Pete, to get players he's familiar with so he can get the most out of them.  His ability to find talent and cultivate their skills sets him apart from everyone else.

This is a make or break pick for coach Carroll.  It will let us know whether Pete is a mad scientist or a snake oil salesman.  Those that believe in Pete will sit back and trust his instincts and his critics will pounce on the first opportunity to point out his mistakes.  I for one am still on board with the Pete program drinking the kool-aid, but if Irvin is not who Pete says he is I will start to question his decision making.  Of course if he picks Chris Polk in the later rounds my bandwagon seat is permanent.  Good luck today Seahawks!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Chad Johnson Is The Next Warren Sapp

Have you ever heard the saying a fool and his money will soon be parted?  Well, in 2012 the saying should go an athlete and his money will soon be parted.  That's not to say all athletes are fools or should be condemned for their spending practices, but the trend of athletes going broke is alarming.  For every Magic Johnson and Jamal Mashburn there's a Lynn Dykstra and a Warren Sapp.  The next high profile athlete I predict will be filing chapter 13 soon is Chad Johnson.

I was watching Basketball Wives the other night (lost the remote again) and saw Chad give his fiancee a Maserati for her birthday.  It was a wonderful gesture and I'm sure he loves her very much (for now), but in the grand scheme of things it's probably a little eccentric for someone that doesn't have a guaranteed contract.  Chad was less than impressive last year with the New England Patriots and if they get a chance to acquire a young receiver with size and speed the team will cut him.  If that scenario occurs he may wish he got her a nice hand bag as opposed to a 6 figure sports car.

Truth be told I'm not Chad Johnson's accountant and I have no idea how much money he has or how successful his investments have been.  He may be flushed with cash and financially set for the rest of his life.  I don't live his lifestyle so I won't judge him in that manner.  He's the one taking shots from Ray Lewis and training 4 hours a day so who am I to tell him how to spend his money?  What I do know is history has shown us that living an extravagant lifestyle will take its toll if you don't continue to make large sums of money.

Chad Johnson is a football player and at 34 years old his opportunity to make large sums of money is closing rapidly.  I hope he has a few seasons left or that fiancee of his might send him to the poor house.  Living in the  moment sometimes leads to an uncertain future.  I hope Mr. Johnson figures this out before it's too late. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

1st Round QB's Are Not A Sure Thing

I got into a heated exchange with a good friend of mine this weekend about drafting NFL quarterbacks in the 1st round.  My position was 1/2 of NFL quarterbacks drafted in the 1st round don't really pan out or end up being absolute busts.  His position was you need a quarterback drafted in the 1st round to win the Super Bowl.  This argument raged on for several hours to the point of nausea, but I had to determine who was right and who was wrong.  After much research here is the results.

In his defense:

Last year 20 of the 32 NFL teams started a quarterback drafted in the 1st round.  8 of the 12 playoff teams from last year started a quarterback drafted in the 1st round including the eventual Super Bowl champ.

A quarterback drafted in the 1st round has won 6 of the last 7 Super Bowls.

In my defense:

Since 1987 57 quarterbacks have been chosen in the 1st round.  22 of them have made the Pro Bowl and 6 of them have won Super Bowls.

Over the last 25 years a quarterback drafted in the 1st round has won the Super Bowl 13 times.

As you can see my argument wins statistically.  Quarterbacks drafted in the 1st round pan out about half the time.  On the flip side, if you take Kurt Warner, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady out of the equation a quarterback drafted in the 1st round has won 13 of the last 20 Super Bowls.  I'm not willing to take a draw in this debate so let me know your thoughts.  Which one of us is right?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Weekend Observations

The battle between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder had a playoff intensity yesterday.  The Lakers eventually pulled out a victory in overtime, but find themselves in serious trouble going forward.  Lakers star Metta World Peace hammered OKC's James Harden in the head with and elbow and will undoubtedly be suspended for several games.  The timing couldn't be worse as the Lakers are in a dogfight with the Clippers for the #3 seed.  The playoffs are set to start in a week and losing World Peace for an extended period of time may result in the Lakers going home early.  We all know how heavy handed David Stern can be with his punishment so the Lakers have to prepare for the worst.  Where's Metta's shrink when you need him?  Here are some observations over the weekend.

How fitting is it that right after I blast the Seattle Mariners on my blog they go out and let some guy you never heard of (Phillip Humber) throw a perfect game against them?  I feel a long season coming on.

It's pretty obvious the regular season means absolutely nothing when it comes to the NHL playoffs.  The lower seeds are dominating.  One of the top seeds has already been eliminated (The Vancouver Canucks) and the New York Ranges are on life support.  Can anyone explain this phenomenon?

Does Jon "Bones" Jones need a special permit to carry around those vicious elbows of his?  After pummeling Rashad Evans on Saturday he is well on his way to becoming the greatest light heavyweight in the history of the UFC.

Rafael Nadal exorcised some demons yesterday beating Novak Djokovic 6-3,6-1 at the Monte Carlo Masters.  It was the 8th straight time Nadal has won the tournament, but more importantly the win gives him a psychological boost.  The French Open just got more interesting.

Friday, April 20, 2012

5 Reasons The Seattle Mariners Are In Trouble

The Seattle Mariners are a frustrating ball club to watch.  Just when you think they might be on the verge of turning things around they lose 2 out of 3 to the lowly Cleveland Indians.  It's not that they lost 2 games, but how they lost them that concerns me.  In the first game the Mariners blew a 7 run lead and in the rubber game managed to score only one run.  The Mariners lack consistency and have yet to find an identity.  It's still early in the season so there's still time to turn things around, but I don't see any signs that things are going to improve.  Here are 5 reasons the Seattle Mariners are in trouble.

1.  The Mariners have too many "tweeners" on their roster.  They have too many players that are too good to be playing AAA ball, but not good enough to be in the majors on a daily basis.  Someone besides Dustin Ackley needs to prove they belong in the bigs for real.

2.  After watching Cliff Lee pitch 10 scoreless innings on 102 pitches it's painfully obvious the Mariners got hosed in the Justin Smoak trade.  Smoak has never shown superstar ability and it's time to get over the hype.  He's not who we thought he was going to be.

3.  Adam Jones should be starting in center field, but instead he's going ballistic in Baltimore.  Jones is hitting 60 points higher than any of Seattle's outfielders and he has 5 home runs.  The Mariner outfielders have 3.

4.  King Felix gets no run support.  The Mariners are fortunate their ace has shown loyalty and commitment to an organization that refuses to address the problem.  Not sure how much longer Felix will wait for the Mariners to make a move.

5.  Ichiro is a one man show.  Regardless of where you put him in the line up Ichiro Suzuki is the only Mariner you can count on to get a hit.  Without his production I don't think the Mariners would win 50 games.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Larry Brown: What's In A Name?

SMU doesn't have a strong basketball tradition. Everyone knows the state of Texas is all about football and the hardwood gets very little attention. UT and Baylor overshadow the Mustangs and top recruits pay them no mind. In an effort to change the perception of their program SMU went out and hired Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown. Was it a good move?

Absolutely not. At 71 years old Larry Brown is a fossil. He hasn't coached college basketball in almost 25 years. He's used to coaching grown men who are paid professionals not kids worried about mid terms and study hall. He will have a difficult time communicating with his players.

In addition, Larry Brown is a nomad. He rarely stays at one place for very long and his commitment to a team changes like the weather. There's no way Larry Brown can provide stability or trust to a program that desperately needs it.

No one can question Larry Brown's ability to coach. He's probably forgotten more basketball than most people know and his track record speaks for itself. He's won a national championship, an NBA championship, and coached Allen Iverson in his MVP season. That doesn't mean SMU is the right place at the right time. Hopefully he can land some big recruits before he pulls the plug on this experiment. If I know Larry Brown like I think I know Larry Brown he won't last two seasons. SMU deserves better.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Kentucky Basketball Is The Sh*t

I may be opinionated, but I'm not a hater. I may act like I know everything, but deep down I'm a realist. If you're going to be fair and have integrity you must assess the facts for what they are. Over the years I've given the Kentucky basketball program a hard time. I've accused the program of unscrupulous acts, NCAA violations, and referred to them as a plague on college athletics. The time has come for me to change my position. UK is a basketball factory like no other and coach John Calipari is a genius.

Make no mistake about it, this is not an easy thing to say. I don't like coach Cal or Kentucky basketball, but I respect them immensely. Since he stepped on campus in Lexington John Calipari is a mind boggling 102-14. In 2010 Kentucky sent 5 first round picks and two lottery picks to the NBA including the overall #1 pick. In 2012 Kentucky will send 5 first round picks and two lottery picks to the NBA including the overall #1 pick. It would be unintelligent of me to argue with that kind of success.

Kentucky is flooding the NBA with high caliber talent and the program hasn't reached its maximum potential. The recruiting pitch just got a little easier with a national championship this year and another starting 5 on their way to becoming millionaires. The program sells itself like Blue Magic. There's not a high school basketball player in America that doesn't have Kentucky at the top of their wish list. They may end up somewhere else, but they start out thinking Kentucky first and foremost.

John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats are the best at using the system to their advantage. One and done is the name of the game and Kentucky has adapted quicker and stronger than other schools. No more standing on a soap box clamoring about education and maturity, just bring back a trophy while you're in town doing your mandated internship. Seems to be working right?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Seahawks Schedule Looks Scary

The 2012 season schedule for the Seattle Seahawks was just released and I for one am a little concerned. At first glance it doesn't look like the Hawks will make the playoffs, but then again it's only Mid April. There's still this thing called the NFL draft coming up, another thing called training camp, and a well known phenomenon referred to as untimely injuries. The crystal ball doesn't project that far out and the Seahawks opponents could look vastly different by the time we play them. For now this is how I see the season unfolding.

HOME GAMES: (In no particular order)

Dallas loss
Arizona win
St. Louis win
Green Bay loss
Minnesota win
New England loss
San Francisco win
New York Jets win

ROAD GAMES: (In no particular order)

Miami win
Buffalo win
Detroit loss
Arizona win
Chicago loss
Carolina loss
St. Louis win
San Francisco loss

On paper that's a 9-7 record which is two games better than last season. The rebuilding process takes time and right now I'm pleased with the progress. Hopefully the Matt Flynn era will be an exciting one. Nevertheless it's hard going into the season with no real expectation of making the playoffs unless the schedule turns out to be far easier than anticipated. Your thoughts?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Weekend Observations

I haven't watched a hockey game all season. After the banana throwing incident last year my conscience wouldn't allow me to follow a sport where people of color are treated with such disrespect. When the NHL playoffs began however I started to get curious about the match ups, especially the Vancouver Canucks. I had fun witnessing the melee last year and wouldn't have minded going back up to Canada for a second helping. Just when I was willing to turn the other cheek and assemble my riot gear the Canucks trail the Los Angeles Kings 0-3 in their best of seven series. Guess I'll have to wait until Seattle gets a NHL franchise to become a puck lover once again. I'm pretty sure they won't throw bananas in the 206. If so it's time for Cleavie Wonder to move. Here's some observations over the weekend.

Jackie Robinson day is one of the coolest things in sports. The tribute is well deserved and the participation seems very genuine. I wonder if someday MLB will do the same thing for Roberto Clemente.

The San Francisco Giants suffered a major blow losing closer Brian Wilson for the season. The Giants struggled last year when they lost Buster Posey and the Wilson loss will probably have the same effect. With the Dodgers playing lights out right now the Giants might be buried by June. Stay tuned.

During halftime of the Miami Heat/New York Knicks game Magic Johnson said the Heat won't win the championship because the players are too good of friends and no one is willing to get in some one's face when they're doing something wrong. As much as I would like to disagree with Magic his criticism is spot on. It's hard to argue with someone that played for the championship 9 times in 12 years. I still think the Heat will win the championship. They are the anomaly of all anonalies

Jennifer Capriati is being inducted into the tennis Hall of Fame. Although she burst onto the tennis circuit at a young age she never had a dominant period in her career. I think the voters are being charitable with this selection.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Valentine's Day Is Not A Holiday In Boston

After last year's historic collapse down the stretch the Boston Red Sox decided to clean house and start fresh. They fired Theo Epstein, the architect of two World Series titles and Terry Francona, a manager who dealt with personalities the likes of Manny Ramirez, Pedro Martinez, and Johnny Damon. In an attempt to change the culture and get back to basics the Red Sox hired longtime ESPN analyst Bobby Valentine as the skipper. After a 2-5 start to the 2012 season Red Sox Nation is ready to hit the panic button.

Although Bobby Valentine has extensive managerial experience and a wealth of baseball knowledge the Red Sox job is not a good fit for him. He was an analyst for too long and the transition back to the dugout hasn't gone as smoothly as he anticipated. Valentine is used to0 having the benefit of hindsight to determine what moves a manager should or shouldn't make. It's way different when you have to make those decision in the heat of the moment.

In addition, Valentine doesn't relate to the modern day players that well. He's old school and his war stories don't resonate with the younger generation. The tough guy, no nonsense approach is already starting to wear thin and we're not even to the 10th game of the season. The players didn't realize how much they liked Francona until he was gone.

There's still time for Boston to turn things around and win a pennant, but early signs point to a disappointing season. There's no patience in Beantown and no room for 2nd place. It's a win or get out type of atmosphere and I don't think Bobby Valentine is up for the challenge. Iin my estimation he won't make it too many games past the all star break. The Red Sox organization may have done the right thing, but it didn't yield the desired results. Back to the drawing board. The Valentine watch has officially started.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Brock Osweiler Is The Next Tom Brady

Have any of you ever watched Gruden's QB Camp on ESPN? It's a show where Monday Night Football analyst Jon Gruden grills future NFL quarterbacks on their mechanics, decision making, and overall philosophy about the quarterback position. I typically don't watch the show because the players always seem intimidated and scared of giving Gruden a wrong answer. It's almost as if they're taking on oral exam. Subsequently you get a lot of pat responses and curbed enthusiasm. No one wants to jeopardize their draft position by making a mistake on television.

Tuesday was different however. Gruden's QB Camp had ASU quarterback Brock Osweiler as a guest and he didn't disappoint. Instead of shying away from the Q & A portion of the show Brock took the opportunity to showcase his personality and self confidence in his abilities. I don't usually take the optimistic outlook of college kids too seriously, but this guy is different. I even like the fact he has "Leave your legacy" tattooed on his left arm and "Live life to its fullest" on his right. If nothing else he has a winning attitude.

To be fair, Brock was not overly impressive in his junior year. He was the Pac 12's 5th best quarterback and didn't have a signature game or play to hang his hat on. The 2012 NFL draft has tremendous depth at the quarterback position and it's conceivable that 8 quarterbacks will be taken in front of him:

1. Andrew Luck
2. Robert Griffin III
3. Ryan Tannehill
4. Brandon Weeden
5. Nick Foles
6. Kirk Cousins
7. Russell Wilson
8. Kellen Moore

I hope he watches The Brady 6 before draft day. It will ease some of his inevitable anxiety.

Even though his body of work is mediocre and his junior season was average at best I still think Brock Osweiler will be a star in the NFL. He's 6'7 240 pounds and according to scouts has elite athleticism for his size. In addition, he looks like a natural born leader. It will take a few years for him to see the field, but once he does I don't foresee him going back to the bench. The team that takes a chance on Brock will be pleasantly surprised they found their franchise quarterback so late in the draft. Good luck Brock.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Does Ozzie Guillen Deserve Forgiveness?

A sincere and contrite Ozzie Guillen expressed deep regret and apologized yesterday for offending Cuban Americans with his comments about Fidel Castro. The Marlins manager promised to learn from his mistakes and never address the subject of politics again. Should we believe him?

I believe he is sorry for how his comments were received. As a proud Latino man I know he has a great deal of respect and sympathy for the struggles associated with all Latino people. It's not in his nature to admit he was wrong or exhibit remorse for making brash and controversial statements. The fact he admitted his mistake and owned up to it speaks volumes.

I don't believe this is the last time Ozzie Guillen will get into trouble for saying something inappropriate however. Ozzie Guillen is an open book that says whatever is on his mind regardless of the consequences. He's a sound bite waiting to happen and a reporter's dream. The characteristics that make him a good manager and people person are the same characteristics that make him a polarizing figure. Rest assured we'll hear more outlandish statements from Ozzie again.

I don't want to see the Marlins manager get into trouble like this again so here's a list of names he should NEVER mention in conversation:

1. Adolph Hitler
2. Yasser Arafat
3. Minister Louis Farrakhan
4. Muammar Gaddafi
5. Joseph Kony

If he speaks on any of these men it will be a death sentence for him. Hopefully he's learned his lesson, but I have my doubts. Stick to baseball Ozzie. It's what you know best.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Weekend Observations

Tiger Woods was the favorite going into the Masters this weekend and after two rounds he made those Vegas experts look like fools. The athlete of the decade was never in contention during the tournament and subsequently viewership of the Masters was down. Golf is only exciting when Tiger is dominating and right now that isn't the case. It's pretty clear Tiger sees the glass as half empty and knows he's running out of time to catch (or pass) Jack Nicklaus for most majors. His mental game isn't solid right now and the rest of the field is no longer scared of the Tiger roar. Until he does something significant I will simply refer to him as Eldrick. He doesn't deserve the nickname right now. Here are some observations over the weekend.

New York City is finally embracing its prodigal son (Carmelo Anthony) after a 43 point outburst against the Chicago Bulls. He definitely fed off the crowd's energy and re-established himself as one of the top ten players in the NBA. The Knicks will be a tough out for Miami or Chicago in the playoffs.

3 games into the season Ozzie Guillen is in hot water. The outspoken manager of the Marlins did the unthinkable when he told Time Magazine he loved and respected Fidel Castro. Perhaps he should brush up on his history and geography. He couldn't have picked a worse place to make those comments. I'm not sure he will ever get the immense Cuban American fan base in Miami to fully support him again.

Remember when I said the meteoric rise of Baylor athletics was too good to be true? It appears I was spot on in my analysis. Baylor is currently under investigation for making over 1200 impermissible phone calls and texts to potential recruits. The rags to riches story is over.

Remember when I said Lamar Odom was 90% crybaby and 10% professional? Apparently the Dallas Mavericks agreed with me by making him inactive for the rest of the season. To be fair Lammy has had a lot of personal tragedy in the last year and never really established a role on the Mavericks team. Just because you pay people a lot of money doesn't mean they're not human. Outside forces (or Kardashian women) can still affect a person's play.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Coaches That Want To Be Players

Coaches are supposed to be role models and upstanding citizens in the community. They sit in the living room of countless young athletes and tell their families how they will protect their children and mold them into men. They promise to instill good morals while establishing a high standard of values and etiquette. They promise they will be held accountable for any problems and serve as an example of how to conduct one's self. In the case of Bobby Petrino (and countless other coaches) the example is less than flattering.

Coach Petrino finds himself in the midst of a PR nightmare following a motorcycle crash last weekend. Petrino failed to disclose he had a female passenger half his age at the time of the accident in an effort to keep his extra marital affair a secret. What kind of message does this send to future recruits?

The message is simple. Coaches are human. They let their ego and curiosity get the best of them just like anybody else. They should not be held to a higher standard because they will fall miserably short of unrealistic expectation. How else can you explain a 51 year old man riding his Harley through Pine Bluff, Arkansas with some hot chick on the back? A motorcycle? Really? Is this guy trying to channel his inner Arthur Fonzerelli? You have to admit this story is pretty amusing.

In the end the case of Bobby Petrino is just the latest installment of how technology exposes frauds. We live in a world that no longer has secrets and with that comes the end of the innocence. The ugly truth is coaches use their status and prestige to "glamour" women and satisfy their insatiable appetites. If society doesn't change their definition of what a role model is we are setting ourselves up for failure. do you agree?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Copenhagen And Sunflower Seeds II

Baseball's senior circuit lost some star power in free agency when Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols jumped to the American league, but they remain pitching rich. There are fewer runs scored and subsequently defense and strategy are more important. The National league has won consecutive World Series titles so the formula is effective. As you know I always start the season giving the trophy to the Yankees until somebody proves me wrong, but the NL has some teams that pose a threat to my theory. Here is how the National league will shake out.

NL East champs: Philadelphia Phillies.
The Phillies don't have as much pitching depth as in years past and Ryan Howard is coming off of ankle surgery, but the other teams aren't ready to take advantage of the situation. The Miami Marlins have a new stadium, new manager (Ozzie Guillen), and a new superstar (Jose Reyes) so they can make things interesting. If Atlanta can shake off last season's collapse down the stretch they might be a factor as well. New York and Washington have no shot.

NL Central champs: Milwaukee Brewers.
The Brewers lost Prince Fielder in the off season, but their rivals the St. Louis Cardinals lost their best player (Albert Pujols) and their manager (Tony LaRussa). We will not see them hoist the trophy this October. The Cincinnati Reds could make some noise with Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto, but I don't think their pitching will hold up. Houston and Pittsburgh have no chance.

NL West champs: San Francisco Giants.
Aside from the AL East the NL West is the most competitive division in baseball. This is by no means a runaway for the Giants. They have superior pitching (Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Brian Wilson) but the Dodgers are rejuvenated after restoring stability and credibility with their ownership. Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw provide a nice foundation for the future. That being said Arizona won the division last year and can't be overlooked. Colorado is a scrappy ball club and San Diego generally finds a way to stay competitive. Everyone in this division has a chance, but I give a slight edge to San Fran.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Copenhagen And Sunflower Seeds

It's time to break out the sunflower seeds, the garlic fries, and the Copenhagen. Baseball is back. It would be more exciting if I thought my hometown Seattle Mariners had a shot at making the playoffs, but I have to be patient. The M's are in a rebuilding process and aside from Ichiro and King Felix the talent is very young and unproven. Dustin Ackley looks like a star in the making so let's hope he stays healthy and gains more confidence at the plate. If the Mariners finish .500 I'll be ecstatic. A more realistic projection however is 70 wins. Here's how the rest of the American League will shake out.

AL East Champs: New York Yankees.
Regardless of the aging left side of the infield the Yankees are stacked. We all know that when it comes to upgrading their team the Bronx Bombers will spare no expense. The Red Sox are in transition with their new manager Bobby Valentine and there will be some growing pains. They will make the playoffs, but they won't win the division. The Tampa Bay Rays are always a sleeper team, but free agency has begun to take its toll on their roster. Toronto and Baltimore have no chance.

AL Central Champs: Detroit Tigers.
Signing Prince Fielder was a great addition to a team that already had the reigning AL Cy Young and MVP in Justin Verlander. It will take him a little time to learn the pitchers coming from the National League, but once he does the Tigers will be dangerous. Minnesota is a sleeper team and if Joe Mauer can stay healthy the Twins can make thing interesting. Chicago will find it hard to replace Ozzie Guillen and new manager Robin Ventura may be in over his head. Cleveland and Kansas City have no shot.

AL West Champs: Texas Rangers.
The Rangers fell one strike short of winning the World Series and 2nd place just won't cut it for them. Look for the Rangers to get off to a hot start and cruise to the pennant. Angel fans will remind me they just signed the best player in baseball, but like Prince Fielder in Detroit it will take Albert Pujols a bit of time to learn AL pitching. The Angels will make the playoffs, but they won't win the division. Oakland and Seattle have no chance.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Weekend Observations

The field of 64 has been narrowed down to the final two teams and the championship looks rather exciting. The Kentucky Wildcats are playing great basketball right now, but coach Bill Self and the Kansas Jayhawks are resilient. They make key adjustments at critical points in the game that seem to turn the tide in their favor. Although he tries to deny it, John Calipari needs this championship more than anything to validate his coaching excellence. We all know he can recruit (legally or illegally), but can he finish the final game walking off the court with a net around his neck? We'll see if the basketball gods find him worthy. Here are some observations over the weekend.

Even though Connecticut lost in the Women's Final Four for a second straight year the USA Olympic team has five (5) former Huskies on the roster. They can literally go with a UConn line up and win the gold medal. Geno Auriemma needs to jump back and kiss his self.

Novak Djokovic rolled through the Sony Ericsson Open without dropping a set and tortured his opponents with his mental toughness and clutch winners. If Nadal can't stay healthy and Federer can't find his mojo Novak may be on his way to a grand slam this year.

The Washington Huskies lost their star forward Terrence Ross to the NBA. As an alumni I wanted him to stay for selfish reasons, but I can understand why he left and I don't think he made a bad decision. Good luck Terrence. Thanks for everything.

After watching the Oklahoma City Thunder dismantle the Heat, Lakers, and Bulls last week I'm starting to think they are the favorites to win the NBA championship. They are the most complete team by far and they play together as a unit. If Lebron and D Wade don't pull their heads out of their asses Durant and Westbrook will steal the limelight from them.