Saturday, January 28, 2006

Revamping the Red Sox

It's the MLB Hot Stove season, which means that teams are constantly changing directions and putting a new product on the field. Other than the Mets (who have aggressively clawed their way to the upper echelon of the NL), no team has undergone more changes than the Red Sox over the past two years. Two-thirds of the team that won the 2004 World Series is gone. GM Theo Epstein left and then didn't leave and now he's back. Meanwhile, whoever is running things in the front office continues to churn through the roster like they are a bunch of guys doing their first challenge on Pro Trade Sports. The latest and greatest move? Finalizing the deal with Cleveland that sends out stud prospect Andy Marte and a gaggle of relievers in exchange for Coco Crisp. Is it a good trade? Can Crisp adequately replace Johnny Damon in center field? Are the Red Sox better or worse than last year? Should they have made all those changes after winning the title? As my buddy, Higa used to say on our radio show ... "React!"

Friday, January 27, 2006

Western Logjam

With the All-Star voting done and the game looming, it is that time of the year: roster selections! I've always loved posting my own picks for the All-Star game, but to be honest, there aren't that many tough calls this year. Rip or Redd in the East? Maybe Jason Kidd? There's really not a lot to discuss in most cases. The only real issues are out West at the forward spot, where we have a logjam of massive proportions. So who to pick? Let's take a look.

Writing off the Heat?

On TNT tonight, Charles Barkley said that the Heats "aren't very good," and that this season is "a wash" unless they make a big trade. So this begs the question: can we write them off already? Sure they look terrible now, but they still have the kind of roster that could make some noise in the playoffs. Shaq is having a rough time, but he will have more of a chance to control the game in the playoffs. Jason Williams makes them a lot better, but hasn't been healthy. With Zo coming off the bench, Posey adding D on the wing, and Wade playing well every night, the Heat are certainly decent. Obviously they don't match up well with Detroit, but they wouldn't match up well even if they had the Western Conference All-Star team. I, for one, am not writing the Heat off. Who is going to beat them in the early rounds of the Eastern Conference playoffs? Other than the Cavs, nobody in the East outside of Detroit can beat Miami. Anyway, stay tuned.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

MVP Eligibility

Today my newest column should be going up over at and in it, I announce my surprising choice as the early MVP of the NBA. The whole exercise got me thinking: who is really eligible to win the award? More than any other sport, the NBA MVP seems to be reserved for a player from a winning team. Perhaps this is because a basketball player can have the most singular impact on this teams fortunes, but whatever the reason, you won't see any Andre Dawson or A-Rod type winners coming from last place teams. But how big does your team have to win? Last year I thought Allen Iverson got shafted and that he was never really considered despite the fact that he took his horrible team to the playoffs. Apparently, making the playoffs isn't enough. But what is? Top four in your conference (and home court advantage for a playoff series)? Top 2? A Division title? It's time to check it out. Read on for a breakdown of the last 25 MVP's in the NBA. (By the way, this is important when you consider that three of this year's top candidates - Iverson, Kobe, and LeBron - are on teams that certainly won't be winning their respective conferences.)

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Art of Point Creation

We were discussing Kobe's 81-point game today and his ridiculous 35.9 ppg scoring average (on pace for best since MJ dropped 37.1 per night in the 1986-87 season). Inevitably, I tried to come up with a way to say that Allen Iverson is still better and stumbled upon the idea of "points created." The concept is simple: award two points for every assist handed out (some no doubt lead to three, but it is impossible to tell) and tack those onto the actual points scored. Presto! You have the total number of points created. And by that admittedly shaky measurement, Iverson is not only more productive than Kobe, he is more productive than any other player in the league and is having the fourth best season of the past 25 years. Any guesses on who tops the list? Read on to find out.

Friday, January 20, 2006

NBA Quick Hits

Gilbert Arenas played one of his best games tonight, it happened completely under the radar, and it made me want to jot it down somewhere. But where? Put it in a column? Devote a blog entry to it? It made me realize that we need a thread here where we can note random NBA observations. Thus: NBA Quick Hits. It is a place where you can hop online and say something like, "Wow, Kwame Brown is so unbelievably bad that Devean George just took his spot in the starting lineup." Or: "Raja Bell might be the most underrated perimeter defender in the league, and that might actually give the Suns a fighting chance to win the West (provided Amare ever comes back, of course." Even: "Chris Kaman has the most horrific hair style this side of Pink." You get the idea. Read on, you can be sure the first Quick Hit will be devoted to one Gilbert "Grape" Arenas.

History in the Making?

The NFL has featured 39 Super Bowls since the game's inception in January of 1967, and never before has a team seeded fifth or sixth reached the final showdown. Now, suddenly, there is a chance that TWO teams might do it. The red hot Steelers take on the Broncos and the unstoppable Panthers go to Seattle, both looking to pull of the improbably feat. Not only that, but both teams have a great chance at winning. They are each 3.5 point underdogs, which isn't a whole lot for a low seed playing on the road. Both teams made huge statements last weekend, have momentum, and take on teams that didn't look terribly impressive in the previous round. Needless to say, it should be interesting. Consider this your place for reports, updates, comments, and bad jokes for the conference championship games this weekend.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Yellow is Denver's Favorite Color

It is halftime of the Broncos-Pats game and right now, Denver has to be downright giddy. They were on the verge of going into halftime scoreless, down anywhere from 3-0 to 10-0. Then, Kevin Faulk gift-wrapped a fumble and things spiraled out of control for the Patriots. Another fumble by Ellis Hobbs bracketed a touchdown by Denver that was controversial to say the least. With their offense sputtering, Plummer heaved one deap toward Ashley Lelie. Now, if you play fantasy football at all, you know that Lelie sucks. Sure enough, he got abused on the deep route as Asanti Samuel read it so well that he became the receiver on the play. He beat him to the route, got inside position, and made a move to intercept the pass. Despite the fact that he played the ball perfectly (and the fact that Lelie committed offensive pass interference about six times on the play), Samuel was flagged for one of those ridiculous "first and goal at the one" PI penalties that result when the foul occurs in the end zone. Denver punched it in on the next play and took a 7-3 lead. It was honestly one of the worst calls I've ever seen in an NFL game. Wow.

Hair Scare!

Jimmy Johnson, the man with the famously sculpted hair, is now rocking the "messy look" popularized by the likes of Brad Pitt. Needless to say, it is shocking. He used to have that mop plastered to his dome, now he looks like je just rolled out of bed. Insanity! Forget the games, this is the biggest new of the day. I guess Mel Kiper now stands alone as the hair sculpture MVP. (And yes, I mainly posted this so I could write the ridiculous title "hair scare." Now I know what it feels like to write for ESPN.)

Scouting the Horns

I cuaght the Nova-Texas game today and aside from the fact that it was almost impossibly ugly to watch (Nova shot 22% and still almost won), the showdown provided some insight into a couple of big time NBA prospects wearing burnt orange. Daniel Gibson and LaMarcus Aldridge are both being touted as top five picks if they leave school after their sophomore seasons. Aldridge looks a little stiff and it seems he could use a full four years in college (ala Channing Frye), but I saw enough to come away convinced that he's a legit prospect. He's a full 6'10" with long arms and great hands. His footwork isn't terribly fluid, but he looked more comfortable than most big men around the basket. I was particularly impressed with his timing. He is a good shot blocker and offensive rebounder and he does a nice job of drawing contact and getting up the shot. Unlike Frye though, it doesn't appear he has much of an offensive game outside of five feet, which is something he will need to add to succeed in the NBA. As for Gibson, I think the verdict is really out on him. People want to lable him the next Chris Paul, but I don't see it. He has decent range on his jumper and similar size and quickness, but the similarities end there. Paul was a fearless competitor and made his teammates better, whereas Gibson is a bit of a loose cannon that floats in and out of games and kills his team with excessive turnovers. During the game today, Billy Packer made the comment, "Gibson looks much more comfortable now that he's playing off the ball." Umm, that's not a good sign for a point guard prospect. I don't think he has the eye of the tiger. (By the way, my favorite guy on either team is Nova sophomore point guard Kyle Lowrey. He has no jumper, but he has heart, speed, strength, and incredible instincts. Could be a sleeper in the Earl Watson mode.)

Friday, January 13, 2006

Beating Around the Bush

I wasn't planning on throwing up another post until the games started on Saturday, but I feel that it is absolutely neccessary to address what I like to call the Reggie Bush Madness. It is a disease that is spreading rapidly and today it infected my boys Kornheiser and Wilbon over on PTI. They spent a signficant amount of their time (although it might have been less than 5%, which basically means it didn't happen, according to fraudulant writer James Frey) today discussing why Bush won't be a legit every-down back in the NFL. They said he wasn't big enough, that he should be used like Marshall Faulk, and that LenDale White has between a 40 and 50 percent change of rushing for more yards at the next level. Um ... what is going on here?

It's not just the PTI guys. The whole world seems to be turning against Reggie. Out of sight, out of mind. Nobody is remember the incredible runs, the consistency, the vision, the toughness. Whatever. Anyone who doubts this guy is going to regret it. As for his size, he's 6'0 and 200. He will easily add 10 pounds in the NFL, which means that he will be much bigger than Warrick Dunn (one of the best backs in the league now that they finally just let him run despite being "too small"), as big as Curtis Martin (over 14,000 career rushing yards), as big as Clinton Portis (runs exclusively between the tackles now in Washington), bigger than Tiki Barber (1,860 rushing yards last year to go with 17 appearances on late night talk shows), and only a few pounds lighter than Edge and LT. Did anyone catch Tatum Bell this year? He's a shade under six feet and right around 210 pounds. Reggie Bush is going to be a faster, better version of that. But yeah, go ahead and doubt him.

Monday, January 09, 2006

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Domanick?

One of my favorite Seinfeld episodes was on tonight. George was trying to retrieve some incendiary messages that he'd left on a new fling's answer machine, leading to he and Jerry deciding on a password. They debate which song to pick ("lemon tree" being the title that George resorts to in a panic a few moments later) and briefly discuss "How do you solve a problem like Maria." For some reason, I immediately started thinking about next spring's NFL Draft. You can see how these go hand and hand, right? Regardless, reports have been made in recent days that the Texans plan to stay the course by taking Reggie Bush with the first pick of the 2006 NFL Draft. This makes sense, considering he's Superman in pads. And there is a case to be made that David Carr is worth keeping around. But what do you do with Domanick Davis? He's arguably one of the ten best running backs in the league. He's young and relatively cheap. How do you solve a problem like Domanick? Discuss.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

The Worst 66-Yard Pass of All Time

Can you recall a 66-yard pass play with more negative fallout than the Carson Plamer-to-Chris Henry hookup from today's AFC Wild Card game? Not only did Henry suffer a knee injury and miss the remainder of the game, the Bengals saw their franchise player go down in a heap. Carson Palmer tore his ACL and MCL. He threw only one pass in his first playoff game. Jon Kitna had to play. I mean, this was a horrific injury. 66 yards on one play is pretty good, right? Safe to say that the numbers lied on this one.

Friday, January 06, 2006

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

NFL Playoff madness is upon us. And since I blew past my deadline this week, I am going to have to skip the annual NFL Playoff Picks column and instead post my predictions here. Which is nice, because it brings this once glorious blog out of a long period of hibernation. Yes, the previous post is about the final weekend of the baseball regular season. Ouch. Hopefully, this time the blog will stay active. Read on for picks and commentary. As for what you might find, here's a hint: I've got Rex Grossman tabbed as the most important player in this year's playoffs.