Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Jeff: The Death of The Don Stern

It seems like nor Jer or I can throw together one coherent post lately about one topic. I tried today but had all of this running through my head so here's another random bunch of thoughts...

* Can't tell you how glad I was to see Dallas knock out San Antonio last night. We're now guaranteed an interesting NBA Finals. Thank you Dallas. Thank you Dirk. There's really not one guy on the Spurs I like, and I don't think I've ever seen a team that whines more than they do. Tim Duncan used to be Mr. Unemotional, but now there's not a possession that goes by where he's not bitching to the refs about them not calling fouls. SHUT UP TIMMY! NOBODY LIKES YOU AND NOBODY CARES!!! He's turned into Karl Malone, and I'm not even kidding. Malone's entire game was doing one of two things: 1) hitting the 12 foot baseline jumper or 2) jumping into somebody and drawing a foul. That's it. And after watching Duncan last night I realized that's what he's become. He'll hit the 12 foot bank shot, or jump into somebody, flail the legs, and then throw a shot at the rim hoping to draw a foul. Oh and whine and bitch incessantly if the refs have the audacity to not call a foul.

* As a matter of fact, Duncan has just grabbed the top spot on my Most Hated Current NBA Players list. Congratulations, Timmy. Although he still has a few more years to go before passing icons like Malone, Christian Laettner, and Jim McLvaine on my all-time list.

* And don't think the NBA isn't giddy about San Antonio getting knocked out either. I now firmly believe that every pro sport NEEDS a polarizing object (yes that includes the NFL), be it team or player. You NEED that Goliath to get casual fans to really watch. Although the Spurs have 3 Titles since 1998 (Jer and I are both NBA fans, and yet we both commented when watching last night's game that we completely forgot it was San Antonio, not Detroit, who were the defending champs. Why? Because nobody cares about the Spurs), they're not a Goliath. When you have a Goliath in a large market, there's enough fans to balance the hatred. I hate the Knicks, Lakers, Yankees, Cowboys etc, but there's a ton of souless people who love them to balance that out. Not so with San Antonio. Their town of about a million people love them, but anybody else who watches basketball would rather see Michael Moore in a bikini than watch the Spurs play. They're small-market, they're boring, and they're so incredibly annoying and whiny. Since we can no longer count on David Stern to take care of these things, thanks again to Dirk and Dallas for doing us basketball fans a huge favor.

* Speaking of the Commish, I've come to a sad conclusion about Mr. D. Stern: he's gotten fat and unmotivated. Not that I can blame him, but I think he's lost his competitive fire. The league's doing better than ever and he's filthy rich to show for it, so now he's flipped the cruise-control button, going from Conqueror to "Maintainer". Stern truly has been the most influential Commissioner in sports history. Yes he got a Perfect Storm in Bird and Magic (I'm not trying to be racist here, just honest: a blue-collar white guy and a charismatic black guy in two of the league's biggest and best basketball markets was the perfect scenario for saving the NBA) but he made some pretty bold moves to take advantage of it. It's sad because there's been some opportunities here to further the league and yet he's content to let it ride because it won't hurt his bottom line all that much. 20 years ago there's no way in hell a Detroit-San Antonio series would have happened. Never. If it would have taken calling offensive fouls on Tim Duncan on his every shot, or a JFK-like assassin in the upper balcony, he would have made sure the most marketable teams and players made the Finals. Now? He's content to let an gawd-awful game 7 unfold between the Pistons and Cavs, and to let the Suns WIN THREE GAMES IN A ROW TO CRUSH THE DREAMS OF A HALLWAY SERIES!!! Honestly, in the old days Lebron springs for 50 because the refs are blowing the whistle on Detwah if they breath near him, and the Suns start getting called for traveling and moving picks that are otherwise never called, Steve Nash gets the little used "too much hair" technical, and we get treated to a Lakers/Clippers series. Hey, Stern has earned the right to live on his reputation, but it's sad because I never thought I'd see the day.

* The only real piece of evidence you need that Stern has quit trying is the New York Knicks. If he was still in "The Don" mode, he would have never let Isiah and owner James Dolan destroy the Knicks like they have. I believe that Stern rigged the '85 draft lottery so the Knicks could take Patrick Ewing. Stern knows how important it is to have a good team in New York, and Ewing was a franchise-changer (although I don't think he ever lived up to expectations). But Stern knew enough to do something to save the Knicks when he had the chance. Now? They're in horrible shape for at least another 3 seasons, and they're not even getting rewarded for it because Isiah keeps shipping out draft picks. As bad as the Knicks have been, what makes it worse is what could have been: if Isiah would have left the roster alone, let all of their awful contracts run out by next summer, the Knicks could be looking at a high lottery pick this year, Greg Oden next year, and then Lebron James in free agency the year after that. It could have happened. And Timberwolves fans thought THEY had something to complain about!!

* It's obvious Stern is bored and needs a new challenge: President of the United States. He'd be the best ever. It's the only way I'd vote Republican, but I'd definitely vote for Stern. Unless David Palmer was running against him, then it'd be tougher.

* I knew the NHL was struggling for ratings, but I didn't know it had gotten this bad: more people are watching the WNBA on tv than hockey! I have a long and involved theory on why this is and how to change it, but let's be honest: you don't care.

* NBA draft lottery is tonight, and the Wolves will find out if they'll be picking better or worse than their 6th-worst record. Well that's IF McHale doesn't deal the pick before the pick for an overpriced-underachieving Euro.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Jeff: Monday Musings

* Congratulations to the Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Gophers Football, as Minnesota legislators passed bills granting public funding to build stadiums for both teams. The U will be getting about $11 million of public money, plus a $25 student fee, AND the legislators thankfully decided to take TCF's $35 million in naming rights after all. For the Twins, the cost is much steeper, as a .15 cent sales tax in Hennepin County will try to pay the State's portion of $392 million of the $522 million promised to the Twins, who by the way are going to pay $130 million of, which Carl Pohlad probably has stored under his mattress. I know Jer has some great memories from the Metrodome, but as someone who grew up going to the Kingdome to watch sporting events, I don't miss it one bit, and I'll feel the same about the Dome when it's gone.

* The losing perspective of these things are always fun. Here's my favorite that I've seen so far...

"We are using general fund dollars and a tax on students to build a sports stadium. We could have put these general fund dollars towards the mission of the university," said Sen. Mee Moua, DFL-St. Paul, who voted against the measure. "Why is it that we cannot get a commitment from the state to provide for our students' academic needs but we have no problem using state funding to build a new venue for a football team?"

Um can somebody tell Mr. Moua that as one of the largest public universities in the country, that I think the U is doing just fine for funding?

* People will show up to these new stadiums for the first 3 years just because it's new, but after that, the teams better be winning. Of all the sneaky language legislators tried to put into these bills for the stadiums, I wish they could have put something in there binding Carl Pohlad to spend AT LEAST $80 million a year on players (according to USA Today it's currently at $63 million), and to force Gopher AD Joel Maturi to find a football coach who doesn't think that 6-5 and the Music City Bowl game is a successful season. Actually maybe the provision should have been to find a new AD who doesn't think it's ok for a football coach to average 3.5 Big 10 wins over 10 years, AND a basketball coach who's program is in the tank AND...ok ok you get the idea.

* Here's to hoping the two game 7's in tonight's NBA playoffs are better than yesterday's awful Pistons/Cavs game. That game may have set basketball back at least a decade. Was that the Knicks and Heat of 1995 out there? I couldn't tell. And why does this keep happening in the Eastern Conference? These are two good offensive teams, and yet Detwah can't even crack 80, and Cleveland scores 61 (lowest game 7 total ever and 3rd lowest in any playoff game in the history of the L). Oh and the Cavs made just 5 SHOTS (5-26) the entire 2nd half, and scored an all-time low 23 points. There's NBA basketball at its finest.

* With San Antonio playing tonight, they're very capable of an ugly Eastern Conference-style slugfest, and I have a bad feeling they win tonight. In the Clips/Suns game though, both teams could outscore Cleveland's 61 points at the half. Of course most of the country will be in bed long before that because the NBA insists on starting the late game at 10:30 pm on the east coast, and 9:30 here. HOW DOES THAT MAKE ANY SENSE??!?! How does that benefit your game and the ratings when the vast majority of the population can't even stay up until halftime of the late game! The Mavs/Spurs game tonight starts at 8 eastern! WHY? Start that sucker at 7 (who cares if that's 4pm on the westcoast? As someone who grew up out there, I can tell you I didn't mind at all). This kind of thinking just baffles me.

* Does anybody outside of San Antonio want to see the Spurs win tonight? Anyone? Didn't think so.

* By the way, I've been a critic of Lebron, but I won't be holding the fact he had 2 chances to knock out the Pistons and couldn't get it done against him. Why? The Man averaged 31 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists in the playoffs this year. And he's just 21 years old. Oh and just when you want to blame yesterday's stink-fest on him, think again: King James scored 27, shooting 11-24 (46%) from the floor. His teammates? 9 for 41 (22%). Doesn't matter how great a player he already is, when your teammates shoot 22%, you are not going to beat a team as good as the Pistons.

* Watched The Sports List on Foxsports yesterday (it's not even scaleable how hot Summer Sanders is. Really. Wow), and the list was the 10 best hitters of the 1990's. Ken Griffey Jr was #1, and I did shed a tear watching just how damn good he was in a Seattle uniform (still not only my favorite baseball player, but my favorite athlete of all-time). The really interesting thing though was watching highlights of the guy who was #2 on that list, Skinny Barry Bonds. I couldn't get over how SKINNY the guy was for that whole decade (which included a few seasons in a Giants uniform. I always assumed he hit the juice- I MEAN the weightroom- as soon as he got to San Fran, but not so)!! All the criticism and scrutiny the guy gets is deserved (check out the pictorial of Bonds here on USA Today it's about halfway down the page. Compare picture 6 with 20). You just can't look at the "before" and "after" photos and tell me the guy didn't juice. Especially in his late 30's. But the shame of it all is that he was one of the best players ever BEFORE roiding, and that wasn't enough. But I'm just as sick of him as you are, so I'll shut the hell up now.

* Finally, Cubs catcher Michael Barrett lived the dream of many Major Leaguers Saturday. Did he win a World Series? A gold glove? Hit a walkoff grand slam? NOpe, he punched one of the league's most hated player, former Twins catcher AJ Pierzynski, right in the face (great shot by someone at the Chicago Tribune).

I have a feeling that envious ballplayers league-wide will help pay Barrett's fine with some "annonymous" donations. Twins fans should contribute as a thanks for the AJ trade that brought them Joe Nathan, future ace Francisco Liriano AND a guy named Boof. Thanks AJ!

* Finally, a CFL kicker has vanished on his way to training camp with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Could he have gone "up in smoke" with new teammate Onterrio "Original Whizzinator" Smith? It's just a theory.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Jeremy: Holy Sh*@

*If you had any doubts if the Twins were in trouble or not, please refer to this article in today's Star Tribune.
In this article both pitching and third base are mentioned extensively. And in both cases Gardie acknowledges there is a potential problem, and also doesn't quite seem to have a solid answer for either. Oh, he's got options, it's just that all of the options suck. Seriously, I knew things were bad, but this is just getting silly isn't it?

*Sid is reporting today that the Wolves will hire Randy Wittman away from the Magic to be Dwane Casey's assistant head coach. Apparently Glen Taylor is a big fan of Wittman. Any chance this is an insurance policy in case the season starts out poorly again and Taylor needs a quick fix to replace Casey?

*I shot a 44 on the front 9 at Theo Wirth yesterday with Porta. I think I could have shot a 41, but my putting was horrible because the greens were in horrendous shape. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

*Alright, I'll admit it, Labron James is a superstar. I still think the Pistons are going to figure out a way to win the next two games, and based on how they've played the last 3 I'm not sure why I think that. But James has been unreal, playing way past his years and looking like a seasoned playoff vet. This series was supposed to be about the Pistons handling the Cavs and Labron getting a taste of the real NBA playoffs. Instead, Labron has given everyone a taste of what he is capable of, and I think I speak for everyone when I say "Holy Sh*@!!!"

*Can someone explain to me why I hate the Clippers? Why do I want to see them lose so badly? Does it have to do with Sammy C tanking last year and now having the season of a lifetime? I don't understand it, honestly, but I really want them to lose to the Suns.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Jeff: Sue You!!

Back when I had a radio show, one of favorite topics was perusing websites for stupid lawsuits. Anytime I was lacking in show material, I could be sure there'd be plenty of "You've Gotta Be Kidding Me!" lawsuits that somebody would be filing. I'm not sure if we blame lawyers, jurors, or judges, but the amount of frivilous lawsuits in this country is mind-blowing! Sure there's the high profile ones like the "Finger-in-her-Wendy's-chili" lady that was completely made up, or the woman who spilled coffee on herself and sued McDonald's for millions because she said the coffee was too hot. Honestly, I could make a best-of list (although I'm sure such a thing exists on a website somewhere already) from one's I've found.

The latest one (it's sports-related so it's why I'm posting it here) involves a California attorney who last year sued the Anaheim Angels on behalf of a LA-based psychologist because the man didn't receive a red handbag that was given away to women over the age of 18 as part of a Mother's Day promotion. The attorney, Alfred Rava, who by the way has filed over 40 sexual discrimination suits in California, agreed that this man's rights were violated because he was a man who wanted a red hangbag! And what man could disagree with him? Every manly man feels like we should be able to get everything women get, including red handbags! I mean, this makes sense considering women already have equal rights to men! Oh wait, well except for things like equal pay, but really who pays attention to that anymore?

Some of Rava's other suits have targeted been at the Oakland A's and San Diego (which was founded by the Germans in 1904- sorry) Padres for similar promotions targeting women, or a bar for having the audacity to give cheaper priced drinks to women on "ladies night" and a non-profit organization in San Diego that was giving discounted tickets away to certain groups of women. Some, believe it or not, are being led to believe that Rava is abusing California's Unruh Act, which prohibts businesses from offering discounts or consumer advantages to customers based on their sex, race, or marital status, for his own personal gain and fame. But he asures the public that he only has the best interest of men and people everywhere in mind, with comments like this one from the LA Times article...

In interviews and e-mails, Rava referred to the big league giveaways as "sex discrimination on steroids" and compared them to "having an Easter Day promotion and giving chocolate Easter bunnies to everybody except Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims."

Wonderful. Thanks Alfred. Thanks for connecting the dots there. For a mintue I actually thought giving things away to women as a token of appreciation was a good thing, but I'm glad you set me straight. And I'm glad you're caring about American men everywhere. What's next? A lawsuit against Curves? Or women for being able to give birth? What about suing the Macy's parade for "cruelty against balloon animals"? It's because of people like him that we'll eventually have no Christmas, Easter, Mother's Day, 4th of July, or St Patrick's Day because somebody like him will be offended. Hey if he can't be happy, then why should anyone else be? Whoops I'd better stop or he'll be suing me next.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Jeremy: Tuesday Musings

*Congratulations to Marcus Vick, the newest member of the Paris Hilton/Nicole Richie Federation For People Who You Should Pay Attention To Because We Have A Rich Or Famous Family Member.

*Halfway through the NBA Playoffs and David Stern is already talking about the changes that should be made to the seeding process. My question isn't "Why are you going to change is already?" or even "Why are you talking about this NOW?" My question to David Stern is: "How on earth did this scenario never occur to anyone as a problem before now? My other question for David Stern would be: "Boxers or briefs?"

*Gardie is finally sending Carlos Silva down to the bullpen. He says it's only a temporary move in order for Silva to gain some confidence. Liriano will now join the rotation and make no mistake about this: at present time, outside of Santana, Liriano has the best "stuff" going on the Twins pitching staff. This is now Liriano's job to lose. If Silva rejoins the starting rotation before the end of this season I would expect to see him replace Kyle Lohse before Liriano.

*In the understatement of the year, Steph Marbury had this to say about Larry Brown's possible departure from the Knicks: "I wouldn't mind, it doesn't matter who coaches. I don't care if Larry Brown comes back. I wouldn't mind at all." Jeez, didn't see that one comin'.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Jeff: Monday Musings

* With QB Joey Harrington getting dealt to the Miami Dolphins Friday, Fins fans are about to get a taste of Pouty Daunte. He's a great player when everybody loves him and supports him, but when somebody dare challenge Daunte or tell him he might actually have prove himself a little and compete for a starting job, well he reacts like you're suggesting Tom Brady or Peyton Manning should compete for theirs! As much as I wanted to see Daunte stay one more year in Minnesota, I will not be sad to miss out on all the "nobody respects me" comments he'll be making all year.

* As of today, the Twins are 7.5 games behind the Chicago White Sox for first in the Central division, and 7 back of Detroit for the wildcard. It's certainly not time to fold up the tent, and yet there haven't been many signs of hope that either a) the White Sox will come back to the pack or b) the Twins bats will finally come to life and start scoring runs. Torii Hunter, he of the Gold Glove defense and .267 lifetime hitter who's never hit 30 HR's in a season, has a $12 million option for next year. He's a fan favorite and is exciting to watch, but for a team with a cheapskate owner, or really any team not residing in the Big Apple, Boston or LA, the Twins simply can't afford to bring Hunter back at that salary. The problem here is that as overpaid as Hunter is, he's been the best guy in the cleanup spot for them this season (which is a little like having 5 guys play darts and the only guy that can consistently hit the board be considered the "best"), and this is where Ol' Carl Pohlad takes the blame. Pohlad has proven every year that he's not going to pay for a bat at the deadline that the Twins have so desparately needed every year (and for the moment we're going to forget that GM Terry Ryan is usually hesitant to give up prospects to get a hitter anyways), so trading Hunter this year if the team is still competitive becomes almost impossible. If the Twins are still 6 or 7 games back in the wild card race by the All-star break, you can't trade Hunter for some prospects because there's nobody in the lineup to replace him. Yet that means he'll walk at season's end for nothing. With how well Santana has pitched his last few outings, and how poor Silva and Lohse continue to throw (great news for Twins fans because it forces Gardenhire to finally use his 2nd best pitcher- Francisco Liriano- as a starter), the Twins aren't out of it yet. But if they're still in limbo by the all-star break- a ways out of the hunt but not completely out- then they're going to have a tough time admitting defeat and doing what NEEDS to be done by trading away Hunter for some prospects that can help them down the road.

* I'm glad to see the Edmonton Oilers bounce back in their playoff series agaist San Jose, winning a 3rd straight game last night to take a 3-2 series lead. Apparently, the Sharks crowd booed the Canadian National Anthem, which is funny because when Canadians booed the American anthem at games before the lockout, Americans were threatening nuclear bombing of Canada for their actions. When Sharks fans do exactly the same thing to us, you don't hear a peep about it down here. As a native of Edmonton and a life-long Oiler fan who watched the game last night (I didn't), I'll let my buddy Joel explain it...

last night the sharks fans booed the canadian anthem... i thought we
outgrew this two years ago? WTF?

it came out of nowhere. the way i see it, the fans in edmonchuck (as
you know) are SO loud and overwhelming, that the fans in san jose
wanted to match it... but when it came down to it, they couldn't do it
the old fashioned way, they had to resort to booing a freaking anthem.

give me a break, you sad, pathetic fans. where were you when your
team needed you in the third period when the oilers were absolutely
ROLLING over your sharks?

Yet another shining example of why don't need hockey in warm-weather States. Thanks again Gary Bettman.

* Like most everyone else, I love lists and rankings. When you combine that with the NBA, like ESPN.com ranking the 10 greatest point guards of all-time, well then it's double the fun for me! I'm not going to break down their list, but I had to comment on this...

ESPN.com's panel ranked Kidd as 7th best ever, and Nash 9th. In examining their careers, there is no other rational argument than saying you would take Kidd over Nash. Their passing and court vision are both excellent, and both lead some of the prettiest fast breaks you'll ever see. Now, Nash lovers will tell you that "well Stevie is so much better at shooting than Kidd!" True, but Kidd is also an infinitely better defender than Nash. As a matter of fact, Kidd is a much better shooter than Nash is a defender. And also don't forget Kidd's a much better rebounder than Nash too. I just don't see an argument here at all, and agree with the panel.

* What I don't agree with, however, is ranking both Kidd AND Nash ahead of Gary Payton (GP finished 10th). Keep in mind, I grew up a Sonics fan and Payton's my 2nd favorite player of all-time (1.Shawn Kemp 2.GP 3.Kevin Garnett 4.Chris Webber), so I'm biased. But I believe had Payton played in New York, LA, Chicago, or Boston he'd be mentioned as a top-5 all-time point guard, not barely cracking the Top 10. You know what? Let me delve into this and prove it to you...

Comparing career stats for these three is difficult. Whereas Payton and Kidd have been consistently good for a long time, Nash had such a slow start, and as you'll see, that's really the biggest point in all of this. Nash didn't start more than half of his teams' games until his 5th season, which means he's only been playing at a high level for 6 years. Payton's career averages have dropped because he continues to hang on at age 37, but he had 10 seasons of averaging at least 19 points and 7 assists, garnering 9 all-star selections in that time. Kidd has been consistent from the get-go, and although he hasn't been quite the same since microfracture surgery last season, that's still at least 10 all-star-type years on his resume.

Kidd: 14.6 PPG (FG%: 40.2, 3pt%: 33.2, FT%: 77.9)
Nash: 13.5 PPG (FG%: 47.7, 3pt%: 42.1, FT%: 89.6)
Payton 16.9 PPG (FG%: 46.7, 3pt%: 31.9, FT%: 73)
Nash is certainly the best shooter of the group, and I was suprised to see that Kidd has better percentages from 3 and from the charity stripe than Payton, however GP's only taken 95 more 3's in his career, but has taken 1221 more free throws. When you look at their career totals, it shows that Payton is clearly a better scorer than Nash. In his 6 years as a fulltime starter, only three times (not including his MVP year last year, where he averaged 15.5) did Nash average more than 16 a game, whereas Payton has averaged 16+ in a season 10 TIMES and JKidd has done it 4 times. Not only that but GP scored more than Nash's career high of 18.8 of this season 9 TIMES IN HIS CAREER!! Payton and Kidd both are more effective at driving the lane than Stevie (with Payton basically inventing the 13 foot floater shot that so many small guys use now), and Payton's one of the best low-post scoring point guards ever.

Kidd: 9.2 APG, 3.5 TOPG, 2.8 Asst/TO
Nash: 7.1 APG, 2.4 TOPG, 2.54 Asst/TO
Payton 6.9 APG, 2.3 TOPG, 3 Asst/TO
Another category where Nash's last two seasons have skewed people's perception of how his career compares to the other 2. Nash fans will quickly want to point out that career averages are a misleading stat for him because of his lower totals his first 5 years. However, in Nash's 4 seasons as a starter in Dallas, only one year- his last in 03-04- did he average more than 7.7 assists, and that was 8.8 a game. His two MVP seasons in Phoenix have shown a big jump in assists, but it's ONLY TWO SEASONS. I'd give the clear edge to Kidd in this category because in his 13 NBA seasons, he's averaged MORE THAN 8.8 a game 10 times, and in the three seasons he didn't his averages were 7.7 (his rookie year), and in his last two it was 8.3 and 8.4. No doubt Payton's 3rd in this category but his numbers for a point guard are still well above the norm.

Kidd: 6.5 RPG
Nash: 2.8 RPG
Payton 4.5 RPG
Here's where Kidd is underappreciated. There's plenty of forwards and centers in the league today who can't average 6.5 rebounds a game in one season, let alone over a 13 year career (I'm talking to you, Eddy Curry)! This is part of the reason why Kidd is one of the best ever leading the fast break, because many times he STARTS the fast break! Payton's still a good rebounder for the position, and Nash is about where you expect him to be.

Kidd: 2.2 Stl, .3 blk
Nash: .8 Stl, .1 blk
Payton 2.1 Stl, .2 blk
NBA All-defense: Payton 8 (all were 1st team selections), Kidd 8 (1st-5 times, 2nd-3 times), Nash 0
This is where The Glove really shines, and where Nash really drops. Kidd has been a solid defender his entire career as his 7 All-Defensive selections show, and Nash has a better chance of dunking in a game (which he never has) than being called a good defender. GP? One of the best defensive players ever, at any position. I never saw Walt "Clyde" Frazier of the New York Knicks play back in the '70's, but people who have forgotten more about basketball than I'll never know claim he's the best ever. Fine, if that's true than I'm all the more impressed with Frazier because Payton, as his 8 FIRST TEAM ALL-NBA DEFENSE selections, along with winning the Defensive Player of the Year in '95-'96, show he was one helluva defender.

Titles: Payton, Kidd, Nash- 0
Finals: Kidd 2, Payton 1, Nash 0
MVP: Nash 2, Kidd & Payton 0
All-Star: Payton 9, Kidd 7, Nash 4
All-NBA 1st Team: Kidd 5, Payton 2, Nash 1
All-NBA 2nd Team: Payton 4, Kidd 1, Nash 0,

You can't "throw out" Nash's 2 MVP awards, as he's been one of the best players in the league the past 2 seasons. However, those 2 seasons don't blow away the best 2 for Payton or Kidd, and that's before we even look at Nash's inability to play defense. Nash's last two years have been great, but none of his 4 seasons in Dallas as a starter compare to Payton and Kidd's averages in their 10 best years, let alone 4. Both guys have been consistently great for 10 years each, and when looking at who's had the best careers, MVP's or not Nash just doesn't compare. As for Payton and Kidd, although Kidd's a better passer and rebounder, I would take Payton's scoring and defense, along with solid numbers for a PG passing and grabbing boards, over JKidd.

But that's just me.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Jeremy: Just sayin'

*More proof today that both Glen Mason and Dan Monson should have been let go by the University at the end of their respective last seasons... From today's Star-Tribune: "Both basketball and football have fallen short of meeting the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate (APR), which measures the eligibility, retention and graduation of student-athletes and calls for a minimum graduation rate of 50 percent." Maturi also added: "Our men's basketball graduation rate was almost nonexistent, meaning it was zero for years [due mostly to the fallout from the academic scandal under former coach Clem Haskins]. It got up to 8 percent, which obviously isn't very good. Our football graduation rate for the last decade plus has been 38 percent. We may lose some scholarships in the short term, but hopefully not three, four, five years down the road because of the processes we have in place." We're in trouble... I'm just sayin'.

*In a related note, Maturi told the joke of the century to the Board of Regents: "Maturi told the board members he believes the Gophers football team is not far from winning a Big Ten championship." Is that... I mean... I'm just sayin'... what the... drugs(?)... how can you...

*Did you happen to catch Tayshaun Prince's stuff of Labron James on Sunday during a Cavs breakaway? I'm not sure what was better, the fact that Prince stuffed Labron in the first place, or the look on Labron's face after it happened. Priceless. Look, I enjoy watching Labron play, his talent is limitless, but I don't support the heir of entitlement that he has about him. Similar to Kobe, it drives me crazy. I don't hate Labron, I'm just sayin'.

*In my third time out golfing this season I shot a 46 on the back 9 at Meadowbrook. I'm just sayin', I was mostly happy with this score, considering I was tinkering with my grip and swing during most of the round.

*Are you like me? Are you sick of the Barry Bonds thing? Here's what I don't get: Almost nobody wants to see Bonds break the record, in fact, almost nobody wants to see him even pass Babe Ruth. Baseball has said it won't celebrate Bonds if he breaks the record, the guy is still under investigation, and for the most part everybody mostly wants to see him fail. So why is he still doing this? I'm just sayin', doesn't make sense to me.

*I would just like to point out that on April 11 I said Steve Nash should be the MVP again. I'm just sayin'.

*All I'm sayin' is I can't wait for the Ricky Williams/Onterrio Smith era in the Canadian Football League. The comparrisons to Canadian snowboarder Ross Rebagliati are inevitable aren't they? So many jokes. It's too easy isn't it?

*Just for the record the Legislature is turning down a $35 million gift from TCF Bank for the Gopher Football Stadium because they don't want the stadium to be called TCF Bank Memorial Stadium. That's $35 million free and clear, just for throwing TCF's name on the side of the stadium for 10 years. That money is going to have to be made up through taxes and student fees... Does this make sense to anyone? If it does, please let me know. I'm pretty sure that if someone had offered my parents oh, say, $50,000 to name me, well, pretty much anything besides Jeremy, and keep that name for 10 years, only 10, they would have done it. Again, I'm just sayin'.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Jeff: Gotta Love Minor League Baseball

The St Paul Saints have always been a great alternative to Minnesota Twins baseball. You know, like for those times when it's a beautiful summer evening and for some reason you don't want to go sit inside the cavernous plastic uncomfortable Metrodome. The Saints offer outdoor baseball, cheap prices, and a lot of fun. And oh by the way, the games aren't bad either. Basically it's what going to a baseball game should be about! With the way the Twins have started, I don't think the Saints will have problems filling the seats all summer long. Anyways, if you haven't been to a Saints game yet, this is the summer for you.

I bring up the Saints because of something I saw on my favorite Seattle Mariners blog the USS Mariner today about the Northern League, which the Saints played in last year. Check this link of league transactions, scroll down to 5/1, and you will see the trade of the year, and maybe of the century thus far:

Schaumburg Assigned the contract of RHP Nigel Thatch (Rookie) to Fullerton of the Golden Baseball League in exchange for 1 pallet (60 cases) of Budweiser beer.

That's right, they traded a guy for beer!! Gotta love minor league baseball!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Jeff: The Monday Musings

* Just so you know, I didn't watch much of anything this weekend, and that was fine with me. I was up north at my buddy Dan's hunting cabin, The Black Spruce, for his bachelor party with 11 other guys, and it was well worth the time and effort. Fun was had, guns were shot, dip was eaten (and if somebody hadn't kept pouring hot sauce into it, even MORE dip certainly would have be eaten), some beer was drank, AND 2 truly epic games of wiffle ball were played. If you haven't played wiffle ball in awhile, and I know I hadn't, well I can't recommend it to highly enough. Oh, one suggestion: purchase 2 bats, and as many of the REAL wiffle balls as possible. Let's just say there was a LOT of tape involved to keep everything together after awhile. So long story short I didn't watch much sports but had a fantastic weekend. I'd tell you more, except that the first rule is "What happens at the Black Spruce STAYS at the Black Spruce".

* There were a few of us at The Black Spruce who were hoping to find a way to catch a score for the Lakers/Suns game Saturday night, thinking we'd be missing a great game 7. Looks like we didn't miss much after all. Phoenix wins 121-90?!!??!? And Kobe took 3 shots the entire 2nd half?!?! Not only will I retire the nickname David "The Don" Stern forever, somebody needs to find out if David Stern is still alive!! And just when I was ready to write a big apology to Phil Jackson for all the comments I've made about him being overrated, his Lakers lose 3 in a row to lose his first ever first round playoff series. I didn't really want to write that apology anyways.

* If you're a fan of Eastern Conference basketball (I don't know why you would be, but just in case) don't be offended that I don't offer many opinions on the playoffs going on over there. I mean, what's the point? Did you SEE the Pistons in game 1 yesterday? Granted, they're not going to shoot over 60% every game, but I'll save you the trouble of watching the Eastern Conference playoffs: the Pistons will beat the Cavs in 5 (there has to be at least one game where the refs won't let the Pistons guard Lebron), and then they'll polish off Miami in 5. To steal a phrase from the Sports Guy, it has to be difficult for Shaq to play with that giant fork sticking out of his back. He just looks done, doesn't he? But hey at least the Heat have cap flexibility to give Dwayne Wade some help now that Shaq isn't Shaq anymore...oh that's right they blew it all on Jason Williams and Antoine Walker. Not that Dwayne should be upset that Pat Riley is ruining his prime years, I'm just saying he should get used to watching lesser players winning Titles.

* On second thought, as long as Isiah Thomas is running the Knicks, the Heat have hope for somebody to take their overpriced underachieveing talent. My excitement fot the NBA offseason isn't to see whether Isiah Thomas trades for more ridiculous, it's HOW MANY trades will he make? I'll put the over/under at a solid 2.5.

* Even though I said I wouldn't, one quick thought on the Wolves: fans of the Target Center 12 better get used to the site of Stephon Marbury. I think he's coming back. And frankly, if the Knicks would take Jaric, Hudson, Blount, and one other bad contract, I'd take my chances. If you're going out, you might as well go out with guns blazing!

* Reason #425 why the NHL has problems: we're heading for an Anaheim/San Jose Western Conference Finals. Nobody in California will care, and the 12 die hard hockey fans in the States and the entire country of Canada will be pissed off and not watch. Well done, NHL. Well done. Way to destroy your core fan base to cater to warm weather cities who have the option of a)enjoying beautiful weather in May and June or b) going into an ice rink to watch a game they know nothing about. Hmmm that's a pretty tough decision...I'm hoping that if Isiah ever does get fired, they'll hire him to run the NHL into the ground so they can start over and do it right by hiring me. My first move? Hostile takeover of the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhaws. Two Original Six teams in great hockey towns that have the dumbest owners in the sport. You NEED competitive teams in those markets. Second move? Move the Hurricanes back to Hartford, and the Coyotes back to Winnipeg. And then have a public flogging in the middle of town for the owners who moved the Whalers and Jets in the first place. Third move? Contract the teams in Miami, Tampa, Atlanta, Anaheim, Nashville, and then pick one more from a pool of Columbus, San Jose or Pittsburgh (if they can't get a new rink). Now you have a league of 24 teams, all in strong hockey markets. But of course this makes far too much sense to ever happen.

* I want a new Twins stadium as bad the next person, but here's my one concern: what guarantee do Twins fans have that Ol' Tightwad Carl will actually start spending money on the team once he gets the new ballpark? According to his good buddy Sid Hartman, the Twins MADE $114 million last year. The result? Well you're seeing it on the field. When Carl makes even more money from a new park, I'm not holding my breath that he'll suddenly start spending to get the guys he needs to win. I'm not asking for a Yankees or Red Sox-sized payroll, but I think somewhere around $80 million would be acceptable for the 15th largest market in baseball. Just something to think about.

* Have I mentioned how fun wiffle ball was?

Friday, May 05, 2006

Jeff: Things I Learned This Week

That's the only way to explain how we're going to have a game 7 in Phoenix tomorrow. In the old days of the NBA (i.e. the turn of the century)the Lakers would have had every call go their way, Steve Nash would have picked up on offensive foul everytime he crossed half court, and Kobe Bryant would go for 50 as the Suns were whistled for fouls anytime they got close to him (ok that one did happen). This would have been done for the benefit of the League and TV ratings and, well, me, so that we could all enjoy the Battle of Los Angeles (where any TV producer with a clue would use as many songs as possible from the Rage Against the Machine album of the same title in any and all highlights. Or apparently Tom Petty. Anyways). Instead, I fear another Spurs/Pistons Finals, or maybe, the teams that are playing the best, instead of the ones with most high-profile players, will actually be rewarded.

The Torii Hunter homerun against the Royals Wednesday night that I witnessed: that was the first of the year for a Twins cleanup hitter. That was May 3. The season began April 3. But we shouldn't just pick on the cleanup hitters (or the complete lack of them): the Twins rank no higher than 11th in the AL in any offensive category, and are dead-last in the AL in team ERA and WHIP. Basically, there could be bigger crowds at ST Paul Saints games this summer than at the Metrodome, which always helps that push for a new stadium, right Carl Pohlad? Nothing says Minnesota needs a new stadium like empty seats!!

My Canucks didn't even make the playoffs, but I was still excited at the prospects of an All-Canadian Stanley Cup. Now that the Oilers and Canadiens have been knocked out there's still the possibility of a Calgary/Ottawa final, but I'm much less excited for it. Whereas I made a point to watch as much of the Edmonton/Detwah series, I don't think I'll make much of an effort to watch the Flames or Sens. See this is why I'm not allowed back in Canada anymore.

Nothing really to add here. I'm enjoying my week without it. Just thought you'd want to know.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Jeff: The NBA is Faaaannnnnntastic!!

That was the old NBA slogan in the late '80's, when the NBA really was fantastic. You had about 42 future hall-of-famers in the league, David Stern was his old self when he wasn't afraid to "influence" a playoff series or two, and refs actually allowed a hard foul or two. Although we're not back to the glory days yet, the NBA is truely exciting again for the first time since Jordan left the second time (we're all in agreeance the whole Wizards comeback never happened, right? Right? Just checking). There's storylines galore, and as good as the 1st round has been, the second looks to be even better. Here's what I've noticed so far...

They're baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaccccccccccckkk!! Growing up a Sonics fan, I've always hated the Lakers. Always. They are the New York Yankees/Dallas Cowboys/Notre Dame football/Duke Basketball of the NBA. But they make for great theatre. There was a time in my life, not so long ago, when I didn't like the idea of a Goliath. I wanted parity I wanted everyone to have as good a chance as possible to compete. You know what? I was wrong. I think even the NFL needs That Team. Every sport needs That Team that polarizes people. Love 'em or hate 'em you're going to watch them because if you have no soul you love their dominance, or if you're a decent person, you want to see the upset. Well apparently I have no soul. I LOVE Steve Nash, love watching the Suns play, but I'm openly rooting for the Lakers to win that series, and the worst part is, I'm not even ashamed of it. I WANT A HALLWAY SERIES!!! I don't just want it, I DEMAND IT!!! I want a Hallway Series so that the eternal little brother, the LA Clippers, can knock off the Lakers. You don't get many opportunities for this, and the timing happens to be perfect.
And I think David Stern will make sure it happens. D Stern has lost some of his edge in his later years as NBA Commish. There was a time when you could count on the most interesting and desirable teams going as far as possible. MJ's Bulls never needed help, but well, let's just say the refs had a way of curiously influencing games in the NBA's best interests. Now? We've had to deal with the Spurs and Pistons in the Finals, which NOBODY wants to see. Two very solid basketball teams who couldn't be more boring to watch. (If those two make the Finals again, there won't be a TV outside of the greater Detroit and San Antonio metro areas with the game on). I'm not sure Stern needs to interfere with those teams getting there, but I DO think he will make sure the Lakers get by the Suns tomorrow night. You know what? I have such confidence in The Godfather I'm going to go ahead and guarantee a Lakers victory, and there will be AT LEAST 2 questionable/pivotal calls that will go the Lakers way.

This isn't rocket science. Want to win in the NBA? 1) Don't have Isiah Thomas or Kevin McHale running your team. 2) Unless you're the Pistons, you need a superstar, and at least one other very good 2nd banana (or if you're the Spurs you have 2), and a bunch of other guys who know their roles. This is a very simple formula and, excluding the Pistons, has worked for every NBA champ for like the past 900 years. Last year, the Miami Heat had Dwayne Wade as the superstar, and a still VERY productive Shaq as the 2nd fiddle. They had role players around those 2 that could hit open jumpers, rebound, and play some D. With this time-tested formula, the Heat got within one game of the NBA Finals, losing to the Pistons in game 7 WITHOUT WADE!!!
(who was hurt and who frankly concerns me. I love his game and who hard he attacks the basket, but he's not a big guy like Kobe or Lebron, and he's not made of titanium like Iverson, so the beatings he's taking at the rim are really taking a toll on him. After suffering a hip contusion last night, he looked like he was being held together by duct tape. OF course he finished with 28 and led his team to victory, but it bears mentioning. Maybe he's the NBA's version of Steve McNair. We'll see)
Anyways, if Wade is healthy, there's a good chance they beat the Pistons and go the Finals and then who knows what happens against San Antonio (other than it would have been a vastly more intereting series). What they should have done was resign a few key role players and go at it again with another year of chemistry for their team. Instead? Pat Riley blows it up and brings in two players, Jason Williams and Antoine Walker, who have ALWAYS BEEN SHOOT FIRST GUYS!!! ALWAYS!!!! I have no idea what Riley was thinking here. Wade proved last year he's a great big game player, and if you're making a list of guys who you want taking a big shot for you, he's one of the first guys on the list (speaking of big shots, TNT ran a poll last night asking who you want taking a big shot: MJ, Kobe, or Reggie Miller? My new roommate Kris made a great point: where's Big Shot Bob Horry in this discussion?). Between his effectiveness and Shaq in the post, they had the perfect system. Instead, Riles goa and gets Williams and Walker, who are not and never will be role guys, and can't do much of anything if they don't have the ball in their hands.
Well they may survive this Bulls series, but with all the bickering going on already, I don't like their chances of getting past the 2nd round. And the beauty of it is? Williams, Walker, and James Posey, along with Shaq and Wade, cap out the Heat for the next 3 or 4 years. Well done Pat. Kevin McHale salutes you.

I mentioned that Lebron, DWade and Melo were going to make that next step in these playoffs. Now it looks like all 3 might not even get out of the 1st round!! Wade and Melo have been shackled by their teammates, or lack thereof, and after an incredible opening game for Lebron, he hasn't been the same. A VERY interesting offseason for all 3 of their teams is coming, where there needs to be some changes made to give these guys a chance to get deeper in the playoffs.

Well we have the 6th seeded Clippers already in, the 7th seeded Lakers guaranteed to get in (Stern should resign if it doesn't happen), and 8th seed Sacto giving the top seeded Spurs all they can handle. In what looked like a 2 team race all year (Spurs and Mavs), whoever comes out of the Hallway Series now looks to have a legit chance of playing the Pistons in the Finals. I think San Antonio survives in 7 against the Kings (who if they had Artest all year would have been a 2nd seed instead of 8th), but I don't think they'll have enough left to beat a rested and feisty Mavs team that looked VERY strong against Memphis. Because of their success, the Spurs have played a ton of games over the last 3 or 4 years, and coupled with some of their stars (Duncan, Manu and Parker) playing in international events on top of that, I just think this team is flat worn out. As for Dallas, my big question was Dirk, because he's looked all-world in the regular season before only to fall flat in the playoffs. One series in, and he's been the best player in the playoffs. He's not only hitting shots, he's hitting BIG shots when it counts. Last year I told the story of him chewing out Jason Terry for missing a game winner at the buzzer, only to watch Dirk go 0-5 in the OT as Dallas got knocked out. This year against the Grizz, Dirk hits the game tying shot at the buzzer, then goes for 3 more big baskets in the overtime to bury Memphis. That never happened before but it's happening now, and this team has a swagger to it that's lead by The Diggler. I don't know what made this happen, but it looks like he's finally figuring it out, and they're my pick to go the Finals.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Jeremy: Tuesday Musings

*Moving, wedding, work... no time to watch NBA playoffs. That said, Dirk was unreal last night. Anyone still think he's soft? The only thing that was soft on Dirk last night was his flowing locks of blonde hair. What kind of conditioner DOES that man use?
*Tim Duncan did everything in this series to will his Spurs to victory and yet, he didn't have enough. Is Timmy losing his power? It always seemed like he did what had to be done, including getting his teammates involved in whatever manner neccessary to get the big win in the big game. But has he run out of mojo juice in the tank? By the way, does anyone have a more annoying, "I can't believe you didn't call a foul on that play, I'm-Tim-F'ing-Duncan" face in the league? Of course, could anyone else even have any kind of "I'm-Tim-F'ing-Duncan" face? I digress.
*I'm sure that I've said this before, but I'm not sure I'm capable of caring about the Barry Bonds homerun/steroids/his body is falling apart/he's pudgy/he still has a great swing saga, any less than I already do. On a caring scale of 1-10, with 1 being French people in general, and 10 being Gopher football, I give the Barry Bonds thing a -2, roughly equal to how much I care about how John Madden decorates the Madden Cruiser.
*If you haven't seen Homersota yet, you've got to check it out. Like me, someone things Sid is the biggest homer around. Of course, they rank my favorite media member Paul Allen second. Check it out!

Jeremy: Draft Thoughts

Nice of Jeff to tell me that he wasn't going to write anything about the draft yesterday. I spent my entire day mulling over my thoughts on the draft... only to come home last night and see Jeff's Kiper-esque take on all 7 rounds of the draft. Thanks Jeff! 'Preciate it!!!
No. 17: Chad Greenway. Watching this against the Gophers last year was painful. If we had to draft a Hawkeye, I'm glad this was the guy. 6'2", 240 lbs, runs a 4.6 $0. Not to mention he can actually tackle. Haven't had a guy like that around here since Jack Del Rio. But you've heard enough about him.
No. 48: Cedric Griffin. I gotta tell ya, I like this pick. Griffin is a big corner (6'0" 200 lbs) who runs a 4.5 40. Here's another guy who is big enough to play his position at the NFL level. He's big, fast, and like Greenway, the kid can tackle. He's a hitter, and you gotta love that in a corner. Anybody who is First Team All Big 12 at cornerback playing for the National Champions is someone who deserves a look. It's nice to get somebody at that position who has played in high-pressure situations against big-time talent. Griffin will be the third cornerback, but if Smoot pulls another crapper like he did last year, Griffin will definitely push him for a starting position.
No. 51: Ryan Cook. A center? In the second round? Who wasn't projected to go higher than the 4th round? Okay. Not sure what happened here. Seems like we could have traded down and gotten another pick out of the deal if this was the guy that we thought we HAD to have. If this is an insurance policy for Birk it's a good idea, but like I think Cook with the 51st pick is overvaluing him quite a bit. Also, Greg Eslinger was VERY available at this pick (and I understand I'm very biased toward Gopher guys) and wouldn't that have been an option later in the draft. I feel like we could have addressed another position here. So, what about Cook? Obviously I know nothing about this guy, but he's big, and word has it he's a hard worker, which is the kind of guy that Childress wants on the roster. A guy this big could plug some holes at other offensive line positions, so this is a definite insurance pick, both for Birk and other line positions. Cook seems like a good pick, just not this early.
No. 64: Tavaris Jackson. Trading two third round picks for a second round was a nice move, but yet again, the Vikings took a guy in the second round who wasn't projected to go any higher than possibly round 4. A strange move, but the Vikes regime seems to know what they want and they aren't afraid to go unconventional to get it. Personally, if they were going to move up to get a quarterback, I would have liked to see Omar Jacobson. Jackson was a D-II standout, decent size (6'2", 225lbs.), good speed for a quarterback (4.7ish 40), and a strong arm. Jackson is a project, but it seems like he's got all of the right tools to be a project worth undertaking.

Overall, there's really no way you can rank the Vikings draft. They made some very unconventional moves, that, obviously, if they pay off will look very good down the road. P.A. from KFAN yesterday was talking about how there is a fine line between arrogance and genius when it comes to the NFL draft. Right now the Vikes look arrogant. But I will say this: it's nice to see a Vikings regime that knows what it wants and actually acts accordingly.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Jeff: Monday Musings: NFL Draft Edition

If you're looking for draft grades and wild speculation about who blew it and who made great picks in the 2006 draft, you'll find that on this site in about 3-4 years. That's how long it generally takes to figure out what kind of pro football players this latest group will be. Call it a cop out, but I was taken aback at how many of the picks were getting ripped by NFL anaylsts all weekend long. Granted there were some head-scratchers (see Buffalo's entire draft), and a certain pick that will make Texans fans want to...well they live in Texas so I'm not sure how it gets much worse (more on that one in a moment). Still, I had two prevailing thoughts about draft weekend after watching far too much of it, but before that some musings...

...I think Jer and I exchanged about 247 text messages from the start of the draft till the Vikings chose Chad Greenway at 17. LOVE the pick. Haven't heard anyone who doesn't. I think he plays and plays well for a long time. The 2nd round? I think we're going to need to trust our new regime that they know what they're doing. Like the Cedric Griffin pick, but Ryan Cook and Tavarius Jackson? These guys themselves didn't even think they'd be 4th round selections let alone 2nd!!! I understand that the Vikes really liked both of them, but why not trade down and take them in the 3rd or 4th or 5th round-when you'd STILL be taking them early? Apparently Jackson has the strongest arm in the draft, and pretty good mobility. He got a full ride to Alabama, but when he lost the starting QB battle to Brodie Croyle (3rd round to Kansas City) he transferred to Alabama State. He's going to need time to develop, and it sounds like the Vikes are confident they've got the guys in front of him to give him that time. We'll see.

...Let me be the first to say "You're my boy, Blue!!!" I think we may have a darkhorse for best selling Vikings jersey in 5th round pick FS Greg Blue from Georgia. Apparently the guy had a 3rd round grade on him, but for whatever reason fell. In the couple of Georgia games I saw this year, he was everywhere on D. Maybe not a great cover safety, but he's a big hitter. That could prove to be a steal. You're my Boy!!!! (you're humming "Dust in the Wind" to yourself right now, aren't you?)

...if USC had won the National Title, would their guys have slipped? We'll never know, but I think the teams that got these guys will be glad for it (more on Reggie Bush in a minute). I don't think Matt Leinart could have asked for a better spot. Yes he's probably upset he didn't come out last year where he would have gone #1 to San Fran, but I think Arizona will be great for him. And seriously, when's the last time ANYBODY should be happy to be playing for the Cards? I believe this might be the first time. Still he's got two phenomenal young receivers (quick name the only team that had two 1400 yd receivers last year...ok that was easy, yes it was Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Bolden of the Carrrrrrrrrrrrds), a workhorse back in The Edge, and the Cards stole big Georgia TE Leonard Pope in the 3rd round. Now we'll see if Denny can work some magic on the O-Line to give his skill position guys a chance. Kurt Warner will start the year, get hurt as always by week 6, and Leinart will finish the year, and be the #1 guy for 2007 (and if you think I don't want to pick the Carrrrrrrds to win the NFC West, well, you've got another thing coming. Especially with the Clippers about to win a playoff series, I mean, anything's possible at this point).

...Lendale White, who slipped to the 45th pick with Tennessee, says he has a 31-team chip on his shoulder. If the Titans had ANYBODY else around him with some talent, I'd feel better about my prediction for White to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. Ah hell, I'll stick with it.

...that sound you're hearing is the Denver Broncos roaring to the front of the pack in the AFC. Solid draft (Jake Plummer NEEDS to convince Jay Cutler to grow a stache), and Jevon Walker will be the playmaker to replace aging vet Rod Smith. And don't think that Gopher C Greg Eslinger, who slid all the way to the 5th round, won't be playing in Denver for a long time. Perfect guy for that system.

...I don't know much about football, but I do know that if you want to win, you win in the trenches by building a good O-Line and D-Line. The J-E-T-S Jets!Jets!Jets! were wise to pass on Leinart for T D'Brickeshaw Ferguson, and then spend a late 1st round pick on Nick Mangold, the best center in the draft. The new front office guys are going to give Chad Pennington and Patrick Ramsey a chance to stay upright and make plays. It'll give the Jets a year to evaluate the position. Smart, smart move from the new coaching staff and front office guys there.

...The draft process is too damn long. I know the NFL pushed it back to the end of April to create more hype and money, but it's detrimental to the entire process. NFL teams don't need 3 months to evaluate prospects, and I think the media hype for players and the constant pressure and scrutinty teams are under makes them outsmart themselves or over think this. Or maybe, with so many "experts" out there voicing opinions, it makes the whole draft process seem a lot easier to boneheads like me than it really is.

...Merrill Hoge had the dumbest comment of the weekend from an analyst. When the Chargers took Florida State CB Antonio Cromartie (who had been injured for all of 2005) with the 19th pick, they showed his impressive highlight reel from the few games he actually played in at FSU. Hoge's comment? "The QB's he's playing against are terrible! They're throwing the ball to him! Quarterback's in the National Football League aren't going to be terrible and they aren't going to throw it to him." Um, Merrill? Compared to NFL QB's, ALL college QB's are terrible! It's the hardest position to learn! So by that logic, do we have any possible way to judge college cornerbacks? Oh, that's right the combine...

...During the combine back in February (back when I had the NFL Network) my favorite sports anchor/host Rich Eisen talked to an endless number of scouts and NFL personel about the scouting combines. The question he asked all of them was "do you guys put too much stock in workout numbers and not enough on their body of work in college?" All of them, and I mean ALL OF THEM, told him they didn't. The song and dance from NFL GM's and scouts was that the combine results meant little to them, and it was game tape and footage that meant the most. Bull**** I say. My two examples are USC's tailbacks from last year. Reggie Bush was the best college player on the planet last year. He was drawing comparisons to some of the best college backs of all time, and for once, they were right. He's had the highest ceiling of any running back since Barry Sanders. At best, he's Gale Sayers, at worst, he's Marshall Faulk. He's as close as you'll get to a can't miss player. He'll also put butts in the seats for years. So tell me how Reggie gets passed up by the Texans for a guy, DE Mario Williams, that nobody had ever heard of before the draft? I heard the Julius Peppers comparisons, but everybody knew who Peppers was well before he got to the NFL draft. Heck Williams might not even be the best lineman from his own college TEAM (see Lawson, Manny drafted 22 by San Franciso). Look at the tapes, and look at the college numbers, and how the hell can you not pick Bush? How?
The Texans can hum and haw all they want about signability and defensive team issues and everything else, but they blew it. The Texans made identical offers to Williams and Bush, and then Thursday night pulled the offer from Bush without ever negotiating. For whatever reason, which nobody but them understand, the Texans really truely somehow believed that Williams was worth the #1 pick.
Lendale White is the other guy that baffles me. I know he didn't run a 40, I know he had a poor showing in the bench press (which I know is something NFL players have to do on the field A LOT during a game- oh wait), but I also know he was a great college back. I know this because I SAW him do this all year against good competition. In the Rose Bowl, the biggest college game in the last half decade, he was the best Trojan on the field, rolling over a very good Texas defense. Maybe he's cocky, maybe he rubs some GM's the wrong way, but the kid can play!!
All in all, please don't tell me that the combine results are meaningless, when apparently, they mean everything.