Thursday, April 24, 2008

NHL Playoff Predictions - Round two

So, I don't know the East (50%) as well as the West (100%). That's ok, not too bad for a first round. Let's get right to the second round picks. (Anyone else find it interesting that it's 1v6 and 2v5 in both conferences?)

Eastern Conference:
Montreal (1) vs Philadelphia (6) - Philly's "Upset" of Washington isn't surprising. What will be surprising is if Stellar goaltending is the mark of this series. Price has been a little rollercoastery (is that a word?) and Biron is solid, but not spectacular. I think the scoring of Montreal holds up and Price's resiliance takes them to the next round. Habs in 6.

Pittsburgh (2) vs NY Rangers (5) - Interesting match-up. The Pen's are so completely different than NJ, the Rangers may take a period or two to adjust. While their strength is defense, I don't see them holding up against the young Penguin forwards. Especially now that Crosby is back and getting healthier. Pens in 6.

Western Conference
Detroit (1) vs Colorado (6) - An old rivalry rekindled. Osgood is even back in net for Detroit. While the Colorado scorers are still good, I just don't see them beating the more talented Detroit team in a game 7 in Detroit. Wings in 7.

San Jose (2) vs Dallas (5) - If the regular season finale is any indication, this is going to be another hard-hitting series for the Stars. Marleau is starting to come around for San Jose, and these two teams seem very similar. (Great goaltending, solid defense, three solid centers) I think Marty is better in net and in the end, I think that makes the difference. Stars in 7.

So there you go.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Pacman is now a Cowboy

Well, now they've done it. After the newest Adam Jones related news came out about the hush money, I was sure that if the Cowboys wanted Jones they could get him for the proverbial bag of balls and a fungo bat to borrow a baseball cliche, not a 4th round pick and future considerations.

I like Chris's comment about circumventing the salary cap by bringing in guys with a bad rep, but Jones is BAD GUY. He has no regard for anyone other than himself. Is he contrite about his actions? He doesn't appear to be. It's just another case of a supremely talented athlete getting a second chance or, more correctly, a tenth chance, at least.

I'm not surprised that Jerry Jones felt that he could get Adam Jones under control. He believes in the program that he and Calvin Hill have put together and you can't discount that in this situation. But I wonder what the leaders ad high character guys on this team, like DeMarcus Ware, Terrence Newman, and Bradie James feel about this. Oh, I know what they'll say to the media. They're excited to have him and he's such a great talent, and so on and so forth. But what are they saying amongst themselves? Chemistry may be overrated, but when things get tough in December like they always do, are they gonna be able to count on Adam Jones or is he going to be a grenade that blows up in their faces? We'll have to wait and see.

Friday, April 18, 2008

From bad boys to good deals

Two years ago, the Cowboys signed Terrell Owens, a bad guy. T.O. was bad because he had been blamed for poisoning locker rooms in San Francisco and Philadelphia and making enemies in Baltimore after refusing a trade to the Ravens. Owens has never been in trouble off the field and no one would question his work ethic. But he has clashed with teammates and coaches when things haven't gone to his liking.

And then there is Adam 'Pacman' Jones, also a bad guy, but a different kind of bad than T.O. Jones had no problems fitting into the Titans locker room, but off the field he has been almost nothing but trouble, eventually receiving a minimum one year suspension from the NFL.

So which type of bad is worse?

The answer is most likely whichever one you are dealing with at any particular moment. It also depends on exactly what you are talking about. If you are talking about a good teammate, then T.O. is potentially the greater problem. If you are talking about marketing or public perception, Pacman is probably a bigger headache. But either one is more than capable of tearing a team apart.

Which leads us to the Dallas Cowboys. Jerry Jones has apparently discovered a new favorite way to legally circumvent the salary cap: acquiring 'bad guys' cheaply on the rebound. T.O. was a a cheap acquisition two years ago, Tank Johnson became a Cowboy at little cost during last season, and now Pacman is in a holding pattern. Each player is a star on the field, but because of their 'bad boy' history, they have a contract that puts little to no financial risk on the team should any further problems occur.

And as a Cowboy fan, I think this is brilliant.

These players are poison for their old teams so the Cowboys have all the leverage in negotiations. The Boys end up with first round talent for late round picks, Pro Bowlers for backup dollars. Each of these players is likely on their last chance in the NFL with the Cowboys and have so far been on their best behavior. And if a problem should occur all Dallas has to do is release them because of the structure of the contract.

Of course, while the contract structure provides a safety net, these players are acquired with the hopes that that won't have to happen. So far, the Cowboys have been able to create an environment that keeps these players productive and out of trouble. Maybe they have just been lucky. Maybe they really know what they are doing. Either way, the results have been positive so far in Dallas.

Who knows, a few more of these 'bad boy' deals and they might even win a playoff game.

Monday, April 14, 2008

This team is done!

So my wife comes down stairs from her nap this afternoon and I'm clearly upset about something. "Are you depressed?" she asked me. "Of course I'm depressed, I'm listen to the Rangers."

Just when things can't seem to get any worse, they do. Over the last three days in Boston it's been different culprits: bad starting pitching on Friday night, inability to get runners homes on Saturday, and bad relief pitching on Sunday. It's obvious God hates the Rangers and loves the Red Sox.

You know, every year spring is the same. I have optimism about about the coming Ranger season. I hope that the Rangers are finally going to come together and stay in contention. The long time players (Michael Young, Hank Blalock, Ian Kinsler) etc are finally going be the players we all expected them to be. The off season moves (Jason Jennings, Eddie Guardado, Milton Bradley) are going to work out. The young players (Jason Botts, David Murphy, Josh Hamilton) are going to step up. The pitching is going to be good enough. On and on and on and it never happens. Two weeks into the season and where are we, last place in the west. What are we looking forward to the rest of the year? Last place!

The defense is horendous! Isn't Ron Washington supposed to be the guy who molded Eric Chavez into a Gold Glover? Where is that wizardry with Blalock or Kinsler? It's obvious that Young is a terrible defensive shortstop, but at least Blalock and Kinsler should be able to catch and throw. Any why does he keep trotting out Frank Catalonatto into left field? He couldn't play left for my softball team! And his former bat has completely left him. he's now a singles hitting corner outfielder: exactly what we need.

Talking about Washington, is there a worse in-game manager? How in the world does he in a one run game in which they had the lead, go with Benoit one inning, Wilson one inning, and then pin all your hopes on Franklyn German and Dustin Nippert? Of course, German gives up the lead and then Nippert allows the run that ends the game.

Except for Beniot and Wilson, they have no one worth a crap in the bullpen. They hope that Dustin Nippert can do something, but what has he done so far besides stink up the place? Nothing! And who is surprised that Eddie Guardado and Kaz Fukimori have thrown up all over themselves this year? When was their last decent year? 2001?

Any Astros fan want to testify about Jason Jennings? I will. He sucks. To quote Homer Simpson, "I've seen guys suck before, but he's the suckiest bunch of sucks that every sucked." When will JD put Rangers fans out of their misery and DFA that loser?

I don't even have a plan to move the team forward. Mainly because I'm positive that any plan they implement is almost sure to fail miserably. All I have is this: over the summer the Rangers considered getting into the Johann Santana sweepstakes. They had the prospects the Twins wanted, but the question was would Santana sign the long term deal to make the expenditure in prospects worth the Rangers while. When it was pitched to Santana talked to North Texas native Torri Hunter about Texas and then refused to even consider Texas. Why? Because the culture is poisonous. The Rangers now are the Mavs of the 90s and the Cowboys of the late 80s and the Rangers for their whole damn franchise history except for the late 90s. The Cowboys had a seismic shift when Jerry Jones bought the team in 89. The Mavs had the same thing in 2000 when Cuban bought the team. Would Tom Hicks selling the team be the change needed to change the Ranger's fortunes? Probably not.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Grand Slam: On the record

I've said this for years, but it isn't documented anywhere, so I need to get it in now.

Tiger Woods will win the Grand Slam.

It might not be this year (although I'm certainly not ruling it out), but it will happen. I have been convinced of this ever since he got the Tiger Slam in 2000-01. I know it's never been done before, but this is Tiger. I've said before that we are too quick to label athletes or events as the Greatest Of All Time, but not in this case.

Why might it be this year? Because the major venues are favorable for it. Tiger has a history of performing well at each, which include Augusta National, Torrey Pines, Royal Birkdale and Oakland Hills. And Tiger has won three of his four events this year against good fields. He has crafted his swing to near perfection and is incredibly focused, even by his standards. A few years ago, it appeared that the other top players had caught up, but over the past year, Tiger has made the gap wider than ever.

Why might it not be this year? Well, it's kind of hard to do. One bad round--heck, one bad shot--and it's over until next year. And while Tiger has certainly distanced himself from the pack, there are more guys than ever vying for the title of Best Golfer Not Named Tiger.

But even if it doesn't happen this year (and again, I'm not ruling it out), Tiger is just now entering his prime. That thought is enough to give Mickelson, Singh, Garcia and the rest nightmares. And enough to make Sabbatini say something stupid again.

Get ready for history, golf fans. And take time to appreciate what we are witnessing.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

NHL Playoff Pre(ish)view - Round 1

So, I meant to post this yesterday, and some would call me weak for posting a preview one day into the playoffs, but this isn't a one loss and you're out thing, so I'm hoping for a little latitude. Let's start with the fact that even as a hockey fan, I feel like the season is too long. But, that's probably an arguement for a later date. It's Playoffs!!

Eastern Conference:
Montreal (1) vs. Boston (8) - Two things stand out in this series which is a great original six rivalry that we haven't seen in a long time. 1. No one expected either team to finish in these spots. Charbonneau has Montreal playing like the Montreal of old and Price is making Gainey look like a genius. The loss of Bergeron should have been more devistating to the Bruins. 2. Only 10 points seperate these two teams. Should be a fun series and I see this going to the wire. Habs in 7 (That's Montreal for non-hockey fans).

Pittsburgh (2) vs Ottawa (7) - Even if the first game wouldn't have been played last night, I would have picked Pittsburgh in 5. I don't think Ottawa has it this year with the loss of Alfredsson and others, and with Crosby coming back, the Penguins will only get stronger. Pens in 5.

Washington (3) vs Philadelphia (6) - Gotta love when a team that gets fewer points gets the higher seed. I think Ovechkin is great, maybe one of the best in the league and I think Washington wins because of this. There has been talk of Hatcher coming back for Philly, but he couldn't keep up with number 8 so I don't see that being a factor. Plus the retro looking Caps jerseys are awesome. Capitals in 6

New Jersey (4) vs. NY Rangers (5) - I honestly don't remember the score of last nights' game, but when Brodeur is involved, I expect him to win against a team that doesn't score that many goals. New Jersey in 6. (uh-oh.. NYR won 4-1. )

Western Conference:
Detroit (1) vs. Nashville (8) - I love the Predators' jerseys, but people who wear the red ones just have more talent. Red Wings in 5.

San Jose (2) vs. Calgary (7) - I'm gonna go with what I would have originally wrote rather than what I'm feeling today. I think San Jose is much more talented and Nabakov is better in net. Sharks in 5. (I'm thinking today - Calgary in 6, but I'm still on the books for SJ).

Minnesota (3) vs Colorado (6) - Minnesota bores me and I don't see them being able to keep up with the Avalanche who have been in playoff more for a month or so. In round 1, that advantage goes to Colorado. Avalanche in 6.

Anaheim (4) vs Dallas (5) - I think these two teams are very evenly matched. But I am a homer and I'm going to pick Dallas even without Zubov (If he came back that would be worth at least a game in favor of Dallas). Stars in 7.