Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Big Easy, The Big Tuna & The Big Mystery that is the 2012 Red Sox...

Not to get all emotional on ya, but this really is a beautiful time of year. Baseball is officially underway, all be it half a world away. The Final Four is upon us, featuring an unprecedented and refreshingly chalky group of premiere programs and elite coaches. And it's taking place in New Orleans, a city that's quickly become my favorite venue for neutral site throw downs. And finally, there's NFL free agency, NBA draft declarations, and Tiger Woods rounding into form right before Augusta. Like i said, it's just a beautiful time...

And if you're not of that opinion, may I suggest you hum the Masters theme song in your head while you read on, and pretend that your inner voice is that of legendary mouthpiece, Jim Nantz. Then I'm fairly certain that you too will come to the same conclusion. If not, just look outside and be thankful that it's March and not only isn't there isn't any snow on the ground right now, but there hasn't been any snow on the ground for the majority of the Winter (thank you again, Al Gore). If that still doesn't have you thinking good Spring thoughts, then you're probably just a miserable person, and there's nothing I can do for ya. But by all means, continue reading anyway. I don't discriminate. Unless of course you're parading around as a fake Doctor...


Oh and I apologize in advance for the snow that I essentially just dared to fall, and will now most certainly and inexplicably be covering the ground within the next 48 hours. Stupid spiteful weather...

Final Four Preview

There's no Cinderella, but I don't hear anybody complaining. That skank gets tapped more than the village iPad, anyway. Nope, we've got four perennial powers, in one of the greatest sports cities in the world. Needless to say, I'm pumped. Here's what you can expect...

(4) Louisville vs (1) Kentucky

It's only a pair of intrastate rivals led by Hall of Fame coaches playing for all the marbles. No big deal. And of course by "no big deal", I mean this is only one of the most highly anticipated Final four match ups that anyone can remember...

I still think Kentucky is the best team in the country, so naturally I give them the edge, but if Louisville can hit enough open looks, and big man Gorgui Dieng can frustrate the Kentucky bigs, then there's no reason that the Cardinals can't stay in this thing til the very end and give themselves a chance to win. Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Terrence Jones will most likely prove too hard to handle, but between having Pitino at the helm and considering that The Ville might be the hottest team in the country (a la UCONN last year), it'd be silly to write this streaky flock of Cardinals off. Even if Vegas has installed them as 8 point underdogs...

In the end, Kentucky's talent and size will probably reign supreme, but expect this one to be closer and more hotly contested than the spread may suggest. This is an intrastate rivalry, after all. And one from a legit basketball state, too. this isn't PC/URI or UMASS/BC. So settle in and prepare for a Bluegrass battle of epic proportions. Should be one for the books...

(2) Ohio St. vs (2) Kansas

It would be easy to bill this battle as Sullinger V Robinson, but that just doesn't do this match up justice. In fact, it's probably more of the supporting players that will decide this game than it will be either of it's biggest stars...

Whether it's lanky wing Deshaun Thomas for the Buckeyes or Jayhawks' Jeff Withey and Elijah Johnson, it's the role players that should decide this thing before all is said and done. Why? Because Sullinger and Robinson figure to cancel each other out...

For that reason, I give the edge to Kansas. I wouldn't have thought I'd be saying this when the tournament began, but they've got the better supporting cast, right now, and look better equipped to at least take that final step towards taking home another title. Again, I think this will be a close game, much like the 1st National semifinal, but I give the slight edge to the more versatile and better stocked Jayhawks, with their aforementioned role players being the difference in what should be a narrow victory...

I still like Kentucky to take home their first National Championship since 1998, but I honestly wouldn't be surprised at this point to see any of these Final Four teams to cut down the final set of nets. Should be an exciting weekend, so make sure you're comfortably situated in front of a large TV, rather than packed into an overcrowded and undoubtedly overpriced watering hole...

This show of unity is looking more fraudulent with every passing day.
And here I was thinking that wasn't even possible... 
Red Sox Preview

When your payroll is nearly $200 million dollars, your lineup shouldn't have gaping holes. Yet Boston's does. And when your spending nearly $200 million dollars to put a product on the field, there shouldn't be a system in place in which the general manager, the manager and the managing partners all seem to have a differing approach as to how to build a roster and how to put a winning product on the field. Yet, if we're to believe what, well, what we see and hear coming out of camp in Fort Myers, then that's exactly what's going on with the Boston Red Sox...

Valentine, Cherington. They've already publicly disagreed with each other on several occasions in terms of personnel (Iglesias, Bard, Lavarnway?), and with Curt Schilling telling everyone that his sources are telling him that there's already discord in the clubhouse, it appears as though this season may be doomed from the start. What you have to ask yourself, is whether or not you believe what you hear. There's plenty of smoke, but is there any fire? And if so, is it a fire that's likely to get bigger or smaller as time goes on. Me? I have a hard and fast rule. If you can see smoke from 2,000 miles away, there's definitely some fire. And while some might want to write it off by saying that disagreements are inherent in any relationship, whether that's the case or not is rather irrelevant. If you disagree, and I certainly hope you do from time to time, then keep those discussions private. That at least shows that you're professional, and you have your priorities in line...

No JD Drew. That's gotta be a good sign, right??
That's what has me anxious. It appears that not only is this team inexplicably low on talent, but their management is also woefully inept at inspiring confidence. One thing that can fix that? Yup, winning games. With the key there being, early and often. That's the only way I can envision this team having even a remote shot at a "successful" season. They get out to a quick start,. And they're capable. I know I criticized their roster strength (that's more a comment on talent vs payroll), but this is still more or less the same team that led the AL in runs last year and still managed 90 wins despite limping out of the gate and collapsing down the stretch. Not to mention a team with plenty of potential top end pitching. So they're capable of getting out to that good start, and with the way they're coming out of Spring Training, with the infighting and second guessing already riding high, it'll be important for them to do it this season more than any other season in recent memory...

Final prediction? I've got my Red friends pegged for 3rd in the AL East, right in the mix for 1 of the 2 AL Wild Card spots under the new playoff system. Once the playoffs start? Who knows. They're still built to win playoff series, with good top end pitching, so if they can make it that far (past the Wild Card play-in game), I'd be more than willing to give them a punchers chance. The tough part will be getting there, and minus a hot start, I just don't like their chances...

Hey, I hope I'm wrong, and we're all reading way too much into this chemistry issue, I just have a hard time believing that's the case. There's still enough talent here to win, though. So there's always that. And at the very least, with all of these perceived schisms already in place, and Bobby V being Bobby V, it should be an entertaining Summer. I'm just hoping that entertainment comes in the form of wins as opposed to quirky post game press conferences...

WORLD SERIES PREDICTION: New York Yankees OVER Atlanta Braves in 6 games

News & Notes

So, Tiger is back. Right? Well, yes and no...

The win @ Bay Hill was great, but for "Tiger" to be "back", he can't just win, he has to kick ass and take names in an impressive and dominating fashion. Is that a ridiculously high bar to set? You bet your ass it is, but it's also the reality of the situation. He was at that level before, and in order for him to get "back", he'll have to play at that level again. Unfair? Sure, as long as you're under the delusion that life is supposed to be fair to begin with...

It's not all negative, though. And actually, it's far from it. The good news is not only that Tiger is playing much better on the eve of the Masters, but that the field around him as a whole has either A) gotten better while he's struggled to regain his form AND/OR B) closed the gap on Tiger because of his slightly diminished skills. Either way, the point is the field is closer at the top than it's been in quite some time, which should make for some pretty tasty tournaments. And the tastier the tournament, the better it is when Tiger crushes souls and captures the victory...

Who knew that Tiger banging every waitress from IHOP to BK would end up being so beneficial for the viewing public? Not this guy, but it doesn't mean I'm not prepared to reap the delicious rewards. Golf is more competitive with a diminished Tiger Woods. That's apparent. but is it more enjoyable? I think so, and I think the 2012 Masters may serve as the perfect example of what I mean...

Few quick thoughts on Tebow & Parcells...

First, Tebow. Not sure what the Jets were thinkin', here. Other than to assume that they weren't really thinking about their football team at all, but had their minds more focused on selling merchandise. Which is totally their prerogative. But to try to sell this is a savvy football move? Nah, sorry. I just don't buy it. And it all centers around the fact that Mark Sanchez is about as good as inspiring confidence as he is at accurately tossing the pigskin...

That's the thing, here. IF a team we a veteran superstar QB brought in Tebow, it would be pretty clear what Timmy's role would be. Wildcat option, backup, what have you. But with a guy like Sanchez, who again is shaky at best in nearly all aspects of his life that we've been allowed to see, you're just asking for a QB controversy, and a split locker room as was discussed with the Red Sox above...
My QB is an awesome QB?

I think in the end, like most things, this move came down to ego. The Jets know this is a nearly impossible situation to deal with, between the potential controversy and the market in which they play, but they figured they could make it work, anyway. Why? Because they're the mother fuckin' J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS! Yup, they wear it on their sleeves, and I'm of the opinion that they'll end up taking it on the chin. The risk/reward is way out of whack, and when all is said and done, best case scenario is they end up selling a few extra jerseys. As a Patriots fan, I'm gonna have a ton of fun watching them try to make it work, but it won't. At least not under the terms at which the Jets are currently describing them. There's just no way this season ends with the Jets being good, and Tebow only serving as a limited part of their offense. Just ain't gonna happen...

Now let's go read the God damn Bible...

Speaking of fisherman (Jesus was a fisherman, duh), it appears as though the Big Tuna is headed to the Big Easy to help out his buddy, Sean Payton. And just like with Tebow, I think this situation will probably will a lot more fun to watch from afar than it will actually be effective. With the key difference here being, the Saints aren't making this move purely for publicity...

It's not that I don't think it will "work", it's just that I don't see any of this as being a big deal. I'm not of the opinion that Parcells could do any damage to his legacy (unless he goes the way of that JetBlue pilot in the middle of a game), and in fact he can only better his case for the Hall of Fame (didn't get in this year) if he tacks on another NFC Championship or possibly even a Super Bowl. There's just nothing he can do that would damage his legacy, so to me this is merely a cool story, and a chance for some more great Bill Parcells press conference clips. Like I said, I'd rather view this one from afar than have my team tangled up in it, but I don't think it will become a distraction or blow up in New Orleans' face...

Austin, we have a problem. Somebody get a doctor. No, a real one...
Gonna finish up this week talking a bit about the NBA Draft. I know, right? Well, I've been being asked a lot this past week about Austin Rivers and Dion Waiters, so I figured I'd just go ahead and type it out...

A lot of people have approached me regarding Austin Rivers and said they've been surprised that the highly touted recruit would declare for the draft after what most would call an underwhelming freshman year @ Duke. Why the surprise? Most common answer: Something along the lines of they thought his NBA veteran and head coach father, Glen Rivers MD, and his legendary coach @ Duke, Coach K, would have advised him that he would have been better off getting another year of college ball under his belt so he can get back to being the lottery projected prospect he was when he first graced the Durham campus. My thoughts? Never assume, just because a man slaps the title "Dr." in front of his name, doesn't mean he knows what he's doing...
I'm better not not trying to write
a witty caption for this one.

I call it the "Tony Dungy Syndrome". The name stemming from when the NFL decided to make Tony Dungy a father-like mentor to Michael Vick in the aftermath of Dungy's own son having taken his own life. Not trying to make light of a young man's struggle and eventual demise, but I just never understood why that young man's father would then be put on a pedestal as a man to be listened to when it comes to fatherly advice. This is the same deal. Just because he played in and now coaches in the NBA doesn't mean Glen "Doc" Rivers is any better at helping guide his son through the NBA Draft waters than any other prospects father...

How do I know this to be true? Well because if Doc had any sense, he'd have sent little Austin back to Duke. They don't need the money, right? And unless he believes his son is about to be outed as a Darko-like fraud who was actually all hype, there's no reason he wouldn't be able to vastly improve his stock with another year under his belt. Right? Of course, it's just common sense. And what about, as someone that;s highly thought of within the basketball community, sending the message that it's not good for anyone to go the route of "One & done"? Nah, apparently Doc's taking a page out of Charles Barkley's book. NOT A ROLE MODEL...

That's why it's clear that this is a decision that Austin made on his own, and for whatever reason, he's father has decided not to "persuade" him to change his mind. Just goes to show that those that know don't always do. It also tells you that you should never trust a fake Doctor. Unless of course it's Dr. Pepper. Then again there's nothing phony about that doctorate, no matter what Mr. Pibb would want you to believe...

As for Mr. Dion Waiters, I can't say I blame him for bolting after just two years at the Cuse. Not that he couldn't use some more seasoning, too, but he's already been at school for two years as opposed to 1, and the thinking among scouts is that there's little room for his stock to increase. Not that he couldn't have a great season and become a lottery pick, but it's just not as likely as it is with Rivers. At least according to those who keep tabs on these types of things...

So good luck to you, Dion. Wish we could have snagged that title, but you'll still go down as one of my favorite Syracuse players to watch of all time. Oh, and as I tweeted to you, feel free to make an All Star game before Austin Rivers. That's the bonus of them both coming out in the same draft. I have a bet with Josh "Anonymous" Astin that Waiters makes has a better career, with the first step being he's the first to make an All Star game, and this should make monitoring that situation that much easier. I really wanna win that bet, too. Maybe even more than I wanan win my Chris Herren death bet. Although if somehow Dion Waiters could sell a lethal dose of drugs to Chris Herren, I'm pretty sure I'd be able to retire...

Eh, I like my odds better playing Mega Millions...

Have a good weekend, friends. And when you win half a billy in the lotto, don't forget the little people! And once you're done building a dwarf refuge, slide a few mil my way...

Teddy Williams...



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