I woke up this morning planning to write about the Mariners. I’ve been a long suffering fan of the team, so I am obviously giddy about theoffseason that they have had so far – quite possibly the best in the whole league. Just as I was about to start writing, though, the news broke that things got even better today. Given what the Mariners have accomplished thisoffseason , and the struggles that the Angels have had so far, I don’t think it’s at all unreasonable to call the Mariners the best team in the AL West right now. We’ll take a look at the three deals that have helped them achieve that title, but before we do it’s important to remember that it’s not like this team has to start from scratch. They were a perfectly respectable 85-77 last year, and that would have had them right in the heart of the AL Central. They still need to be significantly better, but they have a lot of good to build from. Now, the three big moves:
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Like many sports fans, I have spent a lot of time last night and today thinking and reading about Chris Henry. Strange story. Awful Story. Senseless story. By all reports the guy was finally getting his life in order, and we have seen before that he is one heck of a player when his mind is on the game, so it seems like a horrible waste for things to have turned out like they have. The details will likely come out and perhaps make more sense of what now seems exceptionally odd, but ultimately it doesn’t really matter. The thing to focus on here is that 26 years old is way too young for anyone to go regardless of the problems they have had or caused.
I’m back in action after spending the last few days in Vegas – just a few casual days of fun with my wife. While I was down there I obviously did the same thing I do every time I am down there – I spent as much time as I could sitting in the sportsbook. This time around it was the Venetian for the most part. While I was sitting there I spent a lot of time thinking about the difference between playing games live and playing online. Here are a few of them:
Yesterday was the good – the six best bowl games. Today, the bad – the five worst bowl games:
1. New Orleans Bowl – Southern Mississippi and Middle Tennessee offer a couple of interesting factors – most significant, this is the final game for Southern Miss running back Damion Fletcher. Despite that, it’s hard to imagine a pairing that could be less inspiring and less captivating to anyone from the casual fan to the avid follower. Most bowls give us a reason to care. This one just plain doesn’t.
Over the next two days we’re going to look at the best and the worst of the impending college bowl season. Today I will touch on the six bowl games that I am most interested in watching, then tomorrow we’ll look at the five that I will quite likely take a pass on. Without further ado, the top six (in order):
Here’s what’s crossing my mind as I get ready for a day of football action:
1. The Saints are favored by 10.5 in Atlanta. Can you imagine how crazy you would have thought I was if I had told you that that was going to be the spread back in July. Crazy, crazy stat – In the last eight years every team in the NFC South has gone from last one year to first the next – including New Orleans this year.
There is only one college football game this weekend as we are stuck in between the regular season and the start of the bowl season. We’ve spent time for the last 15 Saturday’s looking at the day’s action, so there is no reason to stop that even though we only have one game. Here, then, is a collection of 10 facts and figures you may or may not need to know to prepare for today’s Army-Navy game:
Something is very rotten in Pittsburgh. There is really no way to explain how the Steelers managed to lose to the Browns last night. The stats are just staggering. They lost to a team that has a quarterback who completed six of 19 passes for 90 yards. The Browns’ leading rusher was Josh Cribbs – a wide receiver. Cribbs only had 87 yards, but he outgained the entire Steelers team by 12 yards. Big Ben was sacked eight times. This was as bad as a legitimate team can possibly play. The offensive line was offensive, the defense didn’t care, receivers were quitting on routes – absolutely nothing went well. The defending Super Bowl champs have now dropped five in a row, and you really have to wonder what Mike Tomlin is going to do about this, and maybe even f he is going to survive it. Injuries – Troy Polamalu chief among them – are a big part of the story, but that’s not an excuse. It could be an excuse for not winning the division, but it’s not an excuse for a five game slide and a loss to the freaking Browns. Now they have nine days to sit and stew in their own misery before their next game. It will be very interesting to watch what goes on in Pittsburgh over the next few weeks.
It’s too early to fully decide for now, but I think it’s safe to say that Richard Jefferson in San Antonio isn’t working as well it seemed like it would. He has seen the same basic amount of playing time that he has in the past, but his production has dropped by seven points from last year, and is his lowest since he was a rookie in 2001. Three of the last four years he has averaged about 20 points or more per game. This year he has only topped 20 points three times. The Spurs have limped out of the gate at just 10-9 after a win last night, and they have been mostly lousy on the road and against good competition. It doesn’t really matter how he does now as long as the team makes the playoffs, but clearly the chemistry isn’t working yet.
Andrew Bogut perplexes me. He has the look at times of what he is – a number one overall pick. Other times, though, he can look like the most common, uninspiring player on the planet. The reason I thought of this today was I caught part of Milwaukee’s game against the Celtics. Boston won fairly easily to drop Milwaukee for the eighth time in their last nine game.Bogut, though, was prett y special. He had 25 points and 14 boards, and he shot the lights out. In short, he played pretty much entirely up to his potential. He did that the othernight , too – on November 30the against the Bulls he had 22 and 15. The problem, though, is that sandwiched between those two all-star caliber performances were three absolutely stinky duds. He had a total of just 23 points and 20 rebounds combined in those three games, and he shot .323 from the field. I could understand this kind of maddening inconsistency if the guy was a rookie or even a sophomore, but given that he’s in his fifth year it’s frustrating, and it’s one of several reasons why the Bucks are a hard team to handicap these days.