I’m beginning to think that Donovan McNabb is stupid. Not just sort of stupid, either – cripplingly stupid. how else could you explain his suggestion to the Redskins that they sign Terrell Owens. There are about a million things wrong with that suggestion. McNabb and Owens were oil and water last time around. McNabb really needs to get off to a strong start for his new team. Owens has lost a step or three and clearly isn’t the player he once was. There isn’t a more divisive player in the league. Even at his best Owens wasn’t a great fit for what Mike Shanahan likes to do. Thinking that he’s up to the challenge of playing with Owens again, or that Owens would make an impact in Washington worth the heartache, is a sign of a stunning lack of awareness.
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LeBron James is gong to get a title this year if he has to win it single-handedly. His efforts in the fourth quarter tonight couldn’t have been any more impressive. The pesky Bulls were tied heading into the fourth quarter, and they were causing real problems for the Cavs. They were only up by three points seven minutes later when LeBron took over. He amassed 15 points in the next six minutes to give his team the lead for good and to remind the Bulls who is boss. It was an impressive spectacle, though not a surprising one given what he is capable of. Also impressive in the game was Joakim Noah. He sounded ridiculous before the game talking trash about Cleveland, but he really backed it up with his play – 25 points and 13 rebounds.
I just can’t get over the contrast between the two playoffs that are ongoing. The NHL is totally haywire. The first seven series all started 1-1, and the eighth appears headed that way. Good teams have looked bad, and bad teams have looked great, and nothing is really making a whole lot of sense as of yet. On the flipside, the NBA playoffs couldn’t be more predictable. All six home teams that have played so far have won their first games reasonably easily, and the seventh looks like they will as well. The only one of those favorites that hasn’t covered is Orlando, and they only missed by a point, so you could probably have found a winning price somewhere if you got lucky. The public is having a very good start to the NBA playoffs and getting absolutely brutalized by the NHL.
1. There won’t be an upset throughout the playoffs – There is a big talent gap in the NBA. I don’t see an upset that is likely in the first round, and the standings lay out in such a way that the higher seeded team will be the better team if everything plays out as it is supposed to. It’s quite possible, then, that we could see a playoff race that runs exactly true to form. Something will probably disrupt it along the way, but it is definitely more possible this year than it has been in other years. The West could have had some big contests, but injuries are making that less likely.
2. Kevin Durant is going to make things fun – Despite the injury issues for the Lakers and the huge strides the Thunder have taken, Oklahoma City just isn’t ready to pull of an upset here. That being said, I think that Durant is going to be chomping at the bit to get his first taste of the playoffs, and to get some much deserved national TV exposure, and he’s going to make the most of it. We know that the guy is a big game player, and he and Kobe could have one heck of a showdown in this one. Kobe outscored Durant by just over a point per game in their four regular season meetings.
3. Vince Carter is going to be reborn – A guy as good as Carter is doesn’t have as much payoff success as he should have. He can’t always be accused of being a smart guy, but he’s smart enough to know that this is the best shot that he has had, and perhaps his last great chance to make a real impact. He’s matched up well in his opening series, and I look for him to really elevate his game in these playoffs. Orlando certainly could use some big play from him.
4. Derrick Rose will lead his team to a win in one game – The Cavs are clearly the best team in the league and are going to dominate the East, and likely the West when they get their chance. Rose and the Bulls are a feisty playoff team, though – remember the trouble they gave the Celtics last year – and I really do think that they will find a way to win one here.
5. The most vulnerable first round favorite is the Celtics – It’s hard to believe given how good they have been in the recent past, but the magic of Boston is clearly gone, and they are playing on borrowed time. They are still better than Miami and will win if both teams play their best, but if one team is going to lose series while holding home court advantage it will be Boston. They have struggled in the first round the last couple of years, and they just don’t have the margin of error now that they once did.
Remember a couple of days ago when I mentioned that Jerry Rice was trying to be a professional golfer, and he insisted it wasn’t just a publicity stunt? Turns out that he’s either delusional or a liar. After the first round of the Nationwide Tour event yesterday he is a stunning 20 shots off the pace, and 12 shots over par. he had a birdie and eight pars, but also five bogies and four double bogies. That’s better than I could do, but not by nearly as much as a guy who thinks he can be a pro should be able to beat me by. Stick to dancing, Jerry.
I absolutely love the Brandon Marshall deal – a true win-win for both teams. Denver obviously had to get rid of him, and getting two second round picks for him is impressive value all things considered. You’d like to get equivalent value, but that just doesn’t happen in the NFL. For Miami it’s a masterstroke. Ted Ginn Jr. was never going to be a number one receiver, so they needed to get someone. Marshall is an elite receiver – one of the top five – or fewer – in the whole league. It’s rare that you get access to a player like that, and especially rare that you get him at a price like this – one that is certainly fair. There is some risk that Marshall is going to be an attitude issue, but he should be happy to see new surroundings, Bill Parcells doesn’t take a lot of crap, and he does have the ability to play nice if he wants to. There is some downside risk, but it’s worth it to get a player of this caliber – a true game changer who can change an offense with his presence. As a diehard Michigan fan I’m obviously a big Chad Henne fan, and Henne – already a pretty solid NFL quarterback – has the opportunity to take his game to the next level. Henne looked pretty brilliant as a freshman throwing to Braylon Edwards, and Marshall is an even better deep threat than Edwards, so this pairing could be sweet music for years to come.
The NBA as a league is often ridiculous, but they have reached a whole new low with their latest move. Dell Curry is a broadcaster for the Charlotte Bobcats so he is able to vote for the league’s awards. He’s also the father of Stephen Curry, the likely second place finisher in the Rookie of the Year balloting. Because of the latter, the league has stripped Curry of his ROY vote this year while still letting him vote on the other categories. By doing that the league says that they are ensuring impartiality and saving him from a potentially damaging situation, but what they are really doing is saying that they don’t have any faith in Curry’s professionalism. I would have no problem if Curry decided to give up his vote himself – though I certainly don’t think that he needs to – but I think it’s insulting and ridiculous that the league felt that they needed to do it for him. Besides, by doing this they are suggesting that Curry is the only one who could potentially have any bias, and that’s just ridiculous. If they are going to take away this vote then they should also take away the votes of anyone from Memphis because they will be biased towards Tyreke Evans, and take away the vote of anyone who ever played for Milwaukee because they have been biased towards Brandon Jennings. Bias is absolutely and completely a part of voting for every single award there is – if not then every winner would be virtually unanimous. Besides, they are planning on giving the vote to someone else who covers the Bobcats. Do you honestly believe that that person won’t be at least a little biased towards Curry since they see his father every day? If you do you are naive. By isolating this one situation the NBA has made a joke of the whole thing. Why doesn’t the league focus on more pressing issues like making their perennially awful teams competitive or tightening up the playoff schedule so that teams don’t have five days off between games instead of sticking their nose in something ridiculous and meaningless like this?
For the most part don’t watch most games that I bet on. I just find it too stressful and frustrating, and I find that it can affect my mindset for games going forward if things don’t go well. I had a perfect reminder of why that is this afternoon when I watch the Tigers game. I picked Kansas City to beat Detroit. The Royals had beaten them yesterday, but I was more interested in the pitching matchup. Kansas City’s Brian Bannister is a pitcher I quite like, while Dontrelle Willis is a guy who is so messed up he just can’t be trusted until he gets his game in order – and even though he was solid in his first game of the year I don’t believe that it would stick. There was a significant pitching mismatch, and I acted on that. It played out just as I hoped – Bannister was strong, while Willis was lousy, and the Royals opened up a 5-0 lead in the seventh. So far, so good. Then I had to sit there and watch helplessly as the Royals threw it all away like only a team as consistently bad as Kansas City can. The pitching staff somehow allowed fur doubles in one inning, and they did the one thing that drives me more insane than anything else in sports – they walked in a run. It was an ugly, ugly inning, and it was so frustrating to watch that it put me into tilt for the rest of this afternoon. That’s what you get for betting on the Royals, I guess.
I have just gone through an incredibly frustrating experience – something that fans in many cities are going to be forced to go through over the next couple of days. My hometown Calgary Flames didn’t make the playoffs, so their season is now over, and it was time for the President and GM of the team to hold a season ending press conference. I should know better by now, but I made the mistake of listening to it on the radio. And now my head is about to explode. I never cease to be amazed at how different the view can be from the inside of the team than it is from the outside. On the outside the Flames are a broken, damaged team with a list full of problems. On the inside it seems like they just didn’t quite get lucky enough, they need to win a couple more home games, and they have the players on board to go all the way. I particularly love how management of teams can be so openly bitter towards the media, and in this case so openly disregard what a large majority of fans are openly calling for. It’s days like this that have to make me question my obsession with sports – surely there are other things out there that are less frustrating.
Making bold predictions is a necessity for what I do. I’m not always right, of course, but that’s to be expected, and usually you get over it pretty quickly. Every once in a while, though, something happens that is truly bizarre – something that you not only weren’t expecting, but that you were so certain it wasn’t going to happen that you would have banked a lot on it. Today’s win by Phil Mickelson is one of those things. Phil had been absolutely useless all year – an eighth was his best showing, and he hadn’t been competitive once. He’s been dealing with a serious medical issue with his wife, so he can obviously be forgiven for not having his head in the game, or not being as prepared as he might otherwise be.