Monday, October 27, 2008

The NBA season is all but here

With the NBA season upon us I, as a Knicks fan, am looking forward to the season for the first time in what seems like decades. Here are my thoughts, surprises, expectations and other things for the 2008-09 season.

- For all of those folks who may play fantasy basketball I am going to give you a name to remember (I'm not big on fantasy basketball so he may actually be on the radar or what have you). Wilson Chandler of the New York Knicks. That is the name, he will have a major impact this season statistically. I believe he'll throw up a 15 and 7 type season in his first season in D'antoni's system. And who knows, if he starts it could be better than that. Picking that guy in round 8-10 will be great value for a lot of people. Hopefully he stays healthy as I think the guy can flourish.

- I am very interested to see how the young nucleus in Memphis performs. Now I realize they are a bad team, have been so forever, and will probably continue to do so, but the core of Mike Conley/O.J. Mayo and Rudy Gay can be something special in the future. I'm curious to see what strides they take this year. Gay just came off of a 20 and 6 season in his sophomore season in the NBA, and the sky is the limit with a guy of his caliber of talent. No offense to Shane Battier as guys like him are valuable in their own kind of way but I didn't understand it on draft night, and I still don't understand why you would trade away the #8 overall pick, which ended up being Gay, for Shane Battier. That moves still makes me scratch my head.

-Speaking of young talent has anyone paid attention to what the Blazers have done in the draft the last couple of years? They drafted a potentially game changing big man, they drafted a young stud in Brandon Roy, another nice big in LaMarcus Aldridge, now Jerryd Bayless. On paper, the Blazers have absolutely made a living in the draft. They are building their team the right way and seem to be on the road to success. We'll see how it plays out. I think having Oden in the middle defensively will do wonders for their defense. When you have a shot blocker and inside presence on the inside it makes offense harder for everyone on the opposing team and it makes perimeter defense easier for everyone on your team given that they can play tighter defense. It's somewhat similar to playing CB with a guy like Ed Reed playing behind you. You can be as aggressive as you want with that kind of security blanket behind you.

- If Jermaine O'neal can stay healthy (yep I know, that if is as big as
Shaquille O'neal), the Raptors will be tough to handle. Having both O'neal and Bosh to block/alter shots will do wonders for the Raptors defense, and with their assortment of perimeter shooters and a rising young point guard in Jose Calderon, who reminds me of a poor man's Steve Nash. They have the talent, but I don't think much of their head coach. Sam Mitchell seems like a loose cannon. I'll be interested in seeing what they do this year.

- Maybe this is the season, Tyrus Thomas finally elevates from glorified pogo stick to good player? I doubt it, but boy has he been disappointing for a #2 overall pick. All the talent in the world, but a limited offensive game, and what seems like a limited basketball IQ. Between Thomas and one of the biggest stiffs in the NBA Joakim Noah, could the Bulls have done any worse?

- The Denver Nuggets are stuck in neutral. Bringing back Iverson from a basketball standpoint, is kind of pointless. If they did feel they were title contenders, they wouldn't have just given Marcus Camby away for the good ole fart in the jar. So if you don't feel you are a title contender, the point of bringing back Allen Iverson at his price (besides the business ramifications), was? He's a good player but at this point is he worth 22 million?

- Can Chris Paul be the best point guard
EVER when his career is over? I know, I know, that is a very lofty and presumptuous kind of question but his numbers and progress cannot be denied as he gets better annually and has one of the better skillsets at the position that the league probably has ever seen. He just came off a 21 and 12 season where he should have been league MVP. It's scary to think, but I truly believe that he can do that consistently. Can you imagine that? Nope, I can't either.

-Interesting to see that in the first year, of that incredibly unwarranted contract, that Gilbert Arenas is already hurt. So he's injury prone, selfish, doesn't play defense, has no sense of what a good shot is, and is practically a black hole offensively. Washington's management was thinking more economically than their brains on this one in my opinion. We will look back at that and it will be one of the worst contracts in recent memory.

- I love Jason Kidd, and I've made that be known as much as I can. He has brought me some of my greatest memories as a basketball/sports fan, and I miss him dearly even though it was probably the best thing for all the parties involved that he was traded. It's a shame he probably won't see a ring, but I still am greatly entertained by his game, and hope he can have a big year. I think he will, as this is a contract year and its probably his last chance to cash in.

- LeBron James for MVP, start the campaign now.

- I swear I feel like I'm the only one who doesn't understand what was so great about the Mo Williams acquisition for the Cavaliers? What does he add that they didn't already have? All he is, in my opinion, is a rich man's Delonte West. Cleveland needs a post threat, and they still don't have that. Instead they are paying a better version of Joakim Noah 17 million (Ben Wallace). Was getting Wally Sczerbiak and Delonte West really worth taking on that absolutely horrific contract? I think Mo will contribute but I don't really think he makes them that much better.

- With the presence of Elton Brand in Philly now, I definitely think that Iguodala can vault himself into the company of the elite, he just needs to work a little on his offensive game. The athleticism is there, and the defense is there, if he can get to the point where he can be a go to player offensively, he will be the straw that stirs the Philly drink, all the way to the playoffs.

-The Boston Celtics will repeat as champions this year.
- The Portland Trail Blazers will make the postseason
- LaMar Odom will not finish the season with the Lakers
-The Hawks will fall back to obscurity
-The Spurs will start off slowly with Captain Flop...err, I mean Manu Ginobili on the injured list.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The World Series

Game 1 of the World Series is beginning here shortly, but before then I will put my prediction and thoughts on the series out there.

As far as pitching goes in this series, I definitely think that Tampa has the upper hand. While I believe that Cole Hamels is right up there when it comes to best left handers in the National League, last time I checked he can't pitch all the games. After him it is very spotty, as you have a potentially nice #2 starter in Brett Myers, though you never know what you are going to get out of him, Jamie Moyer who never pitches well in the postseason as the 'slow, slower, slowest' stuff doesn't get it done.

I think Joe Blanton is a wildcard here, as he is a guy who can give solid innings, so if he gets a chance to pitch in this series it will be worth watching to see how he fares. As far as the bullpens go, the Phillies have the advantage here by a longshot. Brad Lidge hasn't blown a save all year, even though I tend to think that he is due. As good as the guys in Tampa were during the regular season I think they showed during that seven run debacle in Game 5 against the Sox, that they aren't fully trustworthy. I think David Price is a sleeper though, his stuff is incredible and it seems as if the pressure doesn't get to him. If I'm Joe Maddon I'm using him as my closer this series.

As far as the hitting I'll give the Phillies the edge as they seem to have a million guys who can rake. They are not the best contact hitting team in the league but they can score, score and score some more. Tampa is no slouch in this category as they have several good hitters like Upton, Longoria and Crawford. I do think that Tampa's speed adds a different element to the game.

Keys to this series:

1) Chase Utley- I know this is somewhat redundant but this guy is their best position player. For them to win he has to produce, otherwise it's going to be a long but yet short series for Philly.

2) The Phillies have to win the games that Hamels start. He is their best pitcher, he is the only sure thing you have. If I am Manager Manuel I pitch Hamels in Games 1, 4 and 7 (if necessary). The Phils might be able to scratch one or two out with their other starters but they must win the games Hamels start.

3) The Rays youngsters- So far the brighter lights of the playoffs hasn't affected Upton, Longoria, Garza among others. They have to continue on that path, since this team is chock full of younger players. Evan Longoria seems like he is cool and collected, and BJ Upton does everything so smoothly (I mean, the guy probably brushes his teeth in a smooth fashion for pete's sake) so I don't think the butterflies will be an issue.

4) The Philadelphia "lunch pail players"- While some of these guys are actually quality MLB players, most of them are the hard working, dirty work kind of players. Guys like Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth along with Jimmy Rollins to a lesser extent, bring an energy to the team, and their production has also been good for the most part. Victorino seems to be developing a power stroke as well, as he has come up with several big hits. And of course Jimmy Rollins is the heart and soul of the Phillies team.

I like both of these teams, I think they are both very good and well constructed, but when it comes down to it, I don't think the Phillies have enough pitching to deal with Tampa. I like Philly's core of players and I think Jimmy Rollins is one of the best leaders in the sport. Their style of play, and the kind of players they have is the only reason I give them a shot in the series. I just think Tampa is very good, and destiny is on their side.

PREDICTION: Tampa Bay in 7 games

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Abomination that is called New York Jets..........

and their joke of a head coach, Eric Mangini.
Look, to all the people who may read or skim this blog, this will be as blunt, uncut and forthright an entry as I probably ever will write. Eric Mangini and his fat, arrogant, gum chewing, passive ways needs to be fired. He was good back in 2006 when he took a team nearly devoid of any talent and brought them to the playoffs with innovative schemes and aggressiveness, and actually playing to win. Now he coaches football like Mr Softee, but that isn't even the biggest issue with him. This team is NEVER prepared, and they have been unprepared, lackadaisical and emotionless for the most part this season and it is disheartening. The team has no identity on offense, and plays this bend but don't break nonsense which makes average QBs look wonderful and bad QBs look average.

What exactly did Eric Mangini do to get this job anyway? He was a defensive backs coach on a terrible pass defense for a season when the Jets decided to try and emulate the Patriots (god knows they've been doing this for WAY too long), but I digress as that is not even the point of this. Every single god forsaken game the Jets play you leave the game wondering 'Who the hell is this collection of morons' running the ship? Not one game this season have the Jets been well coached. NOT ONE. Do you know how pathetic that is? And that reached its pinnacle yesterday when Mangini was outcoached by Tom Cable. Yes, that's right, the coach of the most pathetic franchise in the NFL.

The Jets ran the ball as they so pleased yesterday as the Raiders were hell bent on taking away Brett Favre and the threat of the big play. They did that successfully as they harrassed Favre all day, as he made his trademark stupid decisions (see the blind hurl to Hall at the end of the 4th) and forced Jones to beat them, which he did somewhat successfully as he had a boatload of yardage and did whatever he wanted with the Raiders defense except score. While I am not criticizing Jones for his game yesterday, an average back scores 3 long TDs yesterday. Jones simply cannot make anyone miss and it was on display yesterday as Jones had several opportunities to 'hit a homerun' and did not do so.
Now, with Jones running the ball the way he was, you would think the Jets would have run a playaction fake somewhere in the second half? Throughout the fourth quarter and overtime I am sitting there waiting (more like hoping) for the playaction since the Raiders were literally sticking their entire team in the box. But the Jets coaching staff sat there with their collective finger up their collective ass, and ran, ran some more then ran some more. I have no issue with them pounding the rock, but what I do have an issue with is not running a single playaction pass, as well as running the ball the entire overtime period. The Jets were essentially waiting for the Raiders to hand them the game instead of going out there and taking it. This type of playcalling and general nature around the team has been going on for the last two seasons, and it absolutely repulsive.

My issues with Eric Mangini and the rest of this incredibly putrid coaching staff: That dumbass clueless look on Mangini's face no matter how the game is going. No matter the events in the game he has this same emotionless face and is chewing gum. I don't care about yelling and screaming and all that stuff, but could you at least look like you give a damn?

- The overly conservative, play not to lose, soft as charmin garbage playcalling that we Jets fans have to endure on a weekly basis. We trade for Brett Favre, and upgrade from one of the worst QBs in the league, yet we are running the same damn offense we ran last year. Why? What sense does that make? I understand it isn't feasible to throw 40 yard bombs every play, but can we see a 20 yard post? Can we see a playaction? - The use of Kerry Rhodes/the insistence on not putting any legitimate players around him and Darrelle Revis. Nobody has thrown at Revis or Rhodes all season long. Why is that? When you have the human turnstile (Eric Smith) and a rookie who was a 4th round draft pick, why would you throw near Revis or Rhodes? While I think very highly of Darrelle and have since the day we drafted him, does anyone think he is THAT good to the point where he hasn't been thrown at 10 times all year? I don't. I am not sitting here expecting a pairing of LaRon Landry and Kerry Rhodes (even though we could've traded Vilma to Washington and realistically made this happen), or a pairing of Darrelle Revis and Champ Bailey, but is it so hard to have two competent guys around our two very good players? Why the hell is Eric Smith still on the team let alone starting? Oh I forgot, he's smart, hard working and cares about football. Do those things make up for not having any talent, or not knowing how to play the safety position? By the way I am absolutely sick of 'hard working, smart and cares about football' Chad Pennington was all of the above and Eric Mangini swore for him like he was his son. Why? No idea. I guess it's the glaring lack of talent that Eric likes.

I like Dwight Lowery and he is playing well for a rookie 4th round draft selection, but is it really the smartest thing to have him out as the #2 CB when:

A) Our LBs in the middle are very shaky when it comes to pass coverage

B) Our pass rush (the pansy, soft as charmin, play not to lose 3 man rushes certainly don't help) isn't anywhere close to good enough to cover up liabilities much like the Giants is. I can't believe anyone actually thinks Aaron Ross is any good. Whenever the QB has a shred of time to throw the ball, he gets beaten and abused.

-The lack of adjustments. The gameplan isn't working, Mangini stands there with that dumbass look on his face meanwhile we continue to do whatever isn't working. I mean, how many times on 3rd down has the Jets defense rushed 3, watched the QB stand in the pocket until the next damn lunar eclipse and complete a pass for a first down? Hello, Coach, you have a rookie CB, a flat out garbage nickel back, and MLBs who have trouble in the pass game. Might want to try and say, I don't know, put pressure on the damn QB?

-The consistent sticking with favorite players no matter how much they suck and/or struggle. He stuck with Chad Pennington far too long, he stuck with Jonathan Vilma far too long (oh look Vilma just made another tackle 15 yards downfield), only god knows what his obsession with Eric Smith is, etc. If the players are bad, why keep playing them? There are many others but I could conceivably write a book on my problems with this clown and the rest of the clowns on his staff. Bottom line is this, I think the Jets are talented enough, especially with a depleted AFC, to make the postseason and I believe they will in spite of this utterly moronic coaching staff. That being said, we will never take any strides with Eric Mangini as coach. Woody Johnson, the Jets owner, needs to cut bait with that entire coaching staff as soon as possible, before its too late.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

WR Roy Williams to Cowboys

Just when you thought Dallas' offense couldn't get any more potent, they go out and acquire a big, talented, fast WR in Roy Williams. In a blockbuster move at the NFL trade deadline (those are a major rarity), Dallas acquired Williams from Detroit for 1st, 3rd and 6th round picks in the 2009 NFL Draft. The trade of Williams to Dallas is an intriguing one from many vantage points.

-Since Dallas already has the 3rd ranked offense in the league adding Roy Williams seems like overkill.

- Dallas is going for broke this season by trading for the aforementioned Williams who could have been had this offseason for just cash.

- Does Dallas plan on just outscoring everyone en route to a Superbowl win? We saw how well that worked out for the New England Patriots.

- How does Dallas plan on working out their defensive woes? PacMan is in 'trouble' again, Newman is out, whoever they line up opposite Hamlin at safety normally gets targeted. Personally I think they need to be more aggressive and blitz more often. They are playing passive and it shows.

-How does this open up the field for the rest of the weapons Dallas has? Are you going to leave Owens 1 on 1? Are you going to leave Witten 1 on 1 with a linebacker? Are you going to leave Roy 1 on 1? Are you going to bring an extra DB on the field and leave yourself susceptible to the ground attack led my Marion Barber running behind the five run blocking mammoths in front of him?

- How Mr. Owens feels about this. For the record I think he realizes that this move for the short term is good for him. Call me naive but I think he will jive with it. Perhaps I am giving him too much credit.

My thoughts on the trade
- I don't think you can evaluate this trade properly when it comes to its short term gain until the season ends. If Dallas gets to and or wins a Superbowl, the trade was a success for the now. I don't care how they win it, as long as they do. If they don't, I think it's a minor failure since Dallas has loads of young talent and a lot of picks coming to them in the upcoming draft. It's one of those that they will brush off and move on.

- If they don't win the Superbowl but put up production that rivals the 2007 Patriots at some point over the course of the next two seasons, the deal was a success. Since the Tony Romo stint as starting QB started the Dallas Cowboys, the Cowboys have scored the third most points in the league in that time period so there is nowhere to go but to write your names in the history books. As long as Mr. Romo does his part, there is no reason why Dallas cannot be a record breaking offense.

-I have read and heard a lot of people saying that this trade for Roy basically is the beginning of the end for Terrell Owens and I personally believe that they couldn't be any further off. Owens still has plenty left despite his apparent struggles the last three weeks. Now, obviously Dallas now has an insurance policy in the event that Owens goes loony or just flat out loses his skill over the next 10 or so games, but I think the purpose of this was to make this offense a juggernaut, not to replace the flashiest looking toy with another flashy toy.

- This trade is an excellent one for the Detroit Lions who seem to have turned the corner and are weeding out some of the bad seeds. First Millen, then Kitna (placed on IR despite saying that he can play), now Roy. They received a 1st and a 3rd for a guy who was not going to sign an extension with them under any feasible circumstances and have now quickened the recovery process. Good for them, the city of Detroit needs some good news regarding Detroit. It's a new day with the Lions, and the management so far has done well.

-Patrick Crayton, who I personally don't feel is any good, goes back to the slot where he belongs. Now he will get the Wes Welker treatment. He's yet another beneficiary of this trade. He'll see a lot of shoddy coverage and favorable matchups from here on out.

Final thoughts:

I respect Jones for trying to hit the homerun and win this team the Superbowl. In that regard there should be more owners trying to win, but it seems like too many are more worried about making money. Jones tries to win, and no matter who you are or how much you like or dislike the Cowboys you have to respect that. Now we will see whether the deal works out for Dallas, and I think it will. Williams won't have to be a focal point and is playing with a great quarterback, so he will get his. He just needs to focus on being a good teammate, and make the most of the opportunities presented to him.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Thoughts on week 5 in the NFL

-First and foremost I have to start on the Houston Texans. I don't normally use internet lingo in any of my entries. But scratch that for today and 'LMAOOOOOOOOO' @ Sage Rosenfels. I can't fault the guy for the second fumble since it was an excellent play by Robert Mathis, but the first one was simply, for lack of a better word, hilarious.

Funny components of that play:
1) The situation in the game. Rosenfels' team was up by 10 with a little less than 4 minutes left in the game.

2) The fact that Sage Rosenfels apparently thought he was LeBron James and tried to jump over/through FOUR Colts defenders, not one, FOUR.

3) The fact that if he landed safely he, in all likelihood, is STILL short of the first down, even with that incredibly idiotic effort.

4) The fact that Sage could have literally sat down and farted on the football for the last 5 minutes of the game, and that would have helped the Texans more than the events that actually took place.

- As most people who know me would tell you, I have a bias towards good quarterbacks. Ben Roethlisberger's 4th quarter performance is basically the epitome of why I hold that bias. Watching him dodge defenders and make throws in nail biting situations, was an absolute pleasure. And its also been nice watching him grow as a quarterback. He gets better every year, and it's like the man is impossible to sack. That was a big time performance at the tail end of that game Sunday. There's nothing like watching a QB with that proverbial 'ice in his veins' with the game on the line.

- The Lions are just bad, REALLY bad. Exactly what is the point of Marinelli still coaching that team? He won't be there next year anyway.

- Watching Herman Edwards fold tent is nice. He is proving his worth as a head coach right about now. He rode Parcells leftover talent in new York to two playoff appearances, weaseled his way out of New York, and now is stuck in Kansas City making a fool of himself on a weekly basis. Way to go, Herm.

- You know I must tip my hats to the Dolphins for two relatively impressive wins in a row. That being said, Chad Pennington getting credit for this success makes zero sense. All I've hard is how 'well' he's playing and how he brings 'credibility' to the QB position in Miami. A couple things about that, Chad has 3 TDs in 4 games, and Miami's offense is ranked 24th in the NFL in points scored. What exactly is Chad doing differently, that now all of a sudden is worth praise? Is it the fact that in nearly every big down, Miami takes the ball out of his hands and has Ronnie Brown in the shotgun taking snaps? Or the fact that Miami's defense held San Diego and New England to 23 points combined in successive weeks? Think that might have a tad bit more to do with the success of the Fins?

-Big time props to Matt Ryan. I've been on the 'Matt Ryan is a bust' train since Atlanta took him at #3 in the draft. He has been relatively underwhelming in my opinion, but much props to him for his performance against Green Bay this past Sunday. He was precise on his passes, and was very productive against a good Packers team. Kudos to Ryan.

- I'm glad to see Eli Manning still doing well as I thought he would. I realize the Giants have played nothing but pancakes asides from Washington thus far, but that never stopped Eli from playing like Inconsistent Eli in the past. He looks like a different QB, and his pocket presence is EONS better than it was at this point last season. On a side note, this Eli is the best Manning talk is WAY premature, and that is coming from one of his biggest fans. Eli could only dream to be as good as Peyton is.

- The Titans defense is just plain nasty. That style of football, while often ugly, is quite enjoyable at the same time. Physical, in your face football is enjoyable on so many levels. There is nothing better than the defense who hits you, hits you again, then gets in your face to yap about it, then comes back the next play and does it again.

- Either San Diego is not as good as I personally believe they are, or they are just slacking as usual early in the season, or the Shawne Merriman loss as severely damaged their season. Maybe it's all of above sprinkled with a side of bad Norv Turner coaching. Who knows, but San Diego needs to turn on the switch soon. I don't think they have too much to worry about since the AFC is all over the place, but so are they at the moment. They need to get it together.

-Jay Cutler is growing tremendously as a quarterback weekly. This past week the Broncos played a tough defensive team in Tampa, one that forces patience. Cutler, while he was not productive, took what the defense instead of recklessly forcing the ball like he has throughout his career. While it was a fairly nondescript day for Cutler, his maturity shows. If he ever puts it all together, you may be able to call him the best QB in the league at some point in his career. Oh and I am still laughing at the Titans for taking Vince Young over him. That was a bright move. Is it finally safe to say that Cutler is by FAR the best QB in that draft class or does the never-ending patience with the two busts, Leinart and Young, continue?

- I enjoy seeing the Eagles lose. I also enjoy McNabb talking out of his rear (per the usual, see the many times he has played the race card unnecessarily).

After the game, 'There's no way those guys are better than us'

Really Donovan? The 10 offensive points that
you led the team to, and the 200+ yards than the Redskins amassed on the ground seem to scream otherwise. So instead of giving the other team credit, you decide to take the 'we were better even though we were dominated and lost' angle. Well you can be 'better' all you want, but if McNabb doesn't step up his utterly underwhelming play then the Eagles will be golfing come January. Then McNabb will have all the time in the world to talk about how great the playoff-less Eagles were much like he did this past offseason when he claimed that the Eagles were the best team in the NFC. Really, is that why the Eagles finished 8-8 with little offensive production the entire year? Some people just do not belong with a microphone in front of them, and McNabb is one of them.

- I love watching Lee Evans play. That guy is so ridiculously fast and it looks like he isn't even trying. He's a nice all around WR, and as Trent Edwards develops as a QB, he'll be able to flourish in other areas to compliment his supreme deep ability. The guy is putting up madden esque numbers, 16 catches for 432 yds for an average of 27 YPC and a couple of TDs. On a side note, J.P. Losman might be a bad quarterback, but my oh my can he launch the deep ball.

- Reggie Bush had an excellent night in the return game on Monday but that leads me to a question. After the first return for a TD, and Reggie tripping over himself possibly preventing another TD, why would you tempt fate and kick it to him again? Bravado? Or the kicker just couldn't find out of bounds?