Thursday, June 14, 2007

Back On Track?

Has the Good Ship Steinbrenner finally righted itself? A recent winning streak, which has propelled the team back above the .500 mark, seems to indicate just that.

Obviously, the $200 million squad couldn't be so pathetic forever. Six games against the fading White Sox and awful Pirates also went a long way toward curing the woes. The pitching staff began to get its collective act together about a month ago....right when the hitting went suddenly tits up. Now, led by Bobby Abreu of all people, the bats have awoken. ARod has snapped out of his mini-drought, while Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada have pretty much mashed all sesaon.
Still, to us, some issues remain.

The Bullpen comes immediately to mind. This is a less than stellar bunch to begin with. Throw in the fact that they were way overworked in the first two months and you've got a recipe for a late season meltdown. Having Roger Clemens in the fold equals no rest for the weary, as they will be needed to bail out the aging, fatigued groin hurler. Not much help will be available in the trade market, as everyone will be looking for available arms around the July 31 deadline - most with much more to offer up than the Yankees can.

Seriously, Kyle Farnsworth is always a threat to load the bases, and reminds of a real life Nuke LaLoosh. Scott Proctor is good, but pitches seemingly every day, so how long can his arm hold up? Mike Myers and Ron Villone scare no one. After that it's pretty much a crapshoot getting to Mariano Rivera, who has looked somewhat mortal himself thus far, though that could be attributed to a lack of work - he went almost a month between save opportunites.

No doubt this team will be in the mix come September, most likely contending for the Wild Card. The Red Sox have slowed down a bit, but still have a 9 1/2 game cushion over New York in the Eastern division. Chasing the Wild Card brings with it more issues, as they will be in amongst a group of 4-5 teams, making it difficult to gain ground.

It says here that while certainly a possibility, the 2007 Yankees will ultimately fall short and miss the post season for the first time since 1993. At least, that's what we're hoping for.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Vilma: Lay Off Vick

New York Jet linebacker Jonathan Vilma, during an interview with WFAN afternoon host Chris Russo on Wednesday, was asked to comment on the eventful offseason, specifcally regarding the misbehavior of stars like Pacman Jones, Chris Henry and Michael Vick. Somewhat casually, Vilma seemed to dismiss the Vick controversey, at one point uncorking this gem:

..of course dog fighting is much more extreme, but you can equate it to horse

Really, Jon? That's a pretty bold statement there. You sticking by it?

We can see how he might equate the two. After all, it's a well known fact that Affirmed and Alydar fought each other to the death in 1978 after the Belmont Stakes. Also, do you think Ruffian's leg was broken during that run off race with Spectacular Bid? In fact, they had a pre-race brawl where The Bidmaster leaped from the top rail of the stable and crushed the fragile bone of the filly.

It's become comical to hear people attempt to defend dog fighting. "It's cultural", they've said, "you wouldn't understand". Maybe, but cultural tradition or not, it is, like, say, cockfighting, still against the law. And? It's wrong.


The Worst Possible Outcome

This is how you know the Cavs are doomed: the game is in the hands of The Man, and everyone in the house knows he is going to spot up and shoot a three. The Spurs know they have to foul him before he can get the shot off. This can go several different ways - 1.) James is fouled before shooting, putting him on the line for two and forcing an attempted miss and rebound on the second shot, 2.) He's fouled during the act and has to hit three free throws, or 3.) he hits the shot and sends the game to OT.
Or, if you're Cleveland, you get option 4 - he gets fouled while shooting, it doesn't get called, the shot doesn't fall, and the series is, for all intents and purposes, over.
Winning Game 3 was imperative for the Cavs, which would have created the need to take 3 out of the next 4 - unlikely, but not impossible. Obviously, there is no way anyone is winning 4 straight against the Spurs. I know that's a bold statement, but I'll stand by it.
The kicker is that LeBron really did have a great game - he was creating numerous open shots for his teammates, but unlike Game 6 against Detroit, they weren't falling. Once he took over and starting going hard to the hoop, he put his team in position to grab the game at the end.
Predicted scoring line for King James for Game 4: 30-58 FG, 20-27 FT, 85 pts, 0 assists. Cavs lose 87-86.
(photo: Getty images)

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

NBA Finals Preview

Just in time for summer, the NBA will wrap up its season beginning tonight as we begin....wait for it....The Finals. With any luck, the series will wrap up in time for the Fourth of July holiday, and then training camps can open up two weeks later. I Love This Game!

The prevailing wisdom seems to indicate the Spurs will officially reach Elite Team status by taking this series, thereby capturing their fourth title in eight years, which qualifies as a dynasty in today's NBA. However, the league mandates that the games be played, so let's take a look at how this will shake out.

LeBron James has arrived, and led the Cavs to the promised land. The fact that this team has made it to here is in many ways a victory in itself for the city, and the franchise. To say the city of Cleveland is starved for a title (none since 1964) is like saying Nicole Ritchie needs a sandwich. The stunning elimination of the Pistons made for some of the most compelling hoop of this year's playoffs, as King James proved that he was 1.) unstoppable and 2.) willing to let his teammates shoulder the load when he was double and triple teamed.

San Antonio has been strictly business as usual thus far, though the suspensions in the Phoenix series led us to wonder how things would have played out had Robert Horry not decided to hip check Steve Nash. Regardless, the Spurs are poised, polished, and playoff tested. Coach Gregg Popovich has had plenty of time to watch and prepare a plan to defense the Cavs, and it is highly unlikely the King can defeat Tim Duncan and Co. all by himself.

We want to believe that Cleveland can stay with the Spurs and make this a great series, but the coaching ability gap between the two coaches is wide enough to drive a semi through. James will undoubtedly be the best player on the floor, and when the floor also contains Tim Duncan that's saying something, but we feel the Spurs will be able to adequately defend the other four guys on the court, and score enough to take the series, though it would not be unusual to see many of the games be decided by less than 10 points.

The pick? Spurs in 5.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Goodell Takes Aim At History

I guess there is no doubt that the NFL has a new sheriff. Fresh off his suspensions of Pacman Jones and Chris Henry, new commissioner Roger Goodell set his radar on Tank Johnson, and banged out an 8 game suspension. What will he do with Michael Vick regarding the dog fighting? An anxious world awaits.

Claiming he wanted to "strike while the iron was hot", Goodell today suspended O.J. Simpson, retroactively, for the 1973 season. "Being able to remove this blemish from our great game was something that had to be done, even if my predessors didn't have the stones to carry it out." he said. Effective immediately, Simpson's then record setting 2,003 rushing yards will be stricken from the record books, and his bust tossed onto the lawn in Canton, where passers by will be encouraged to "do whatever is needed" to vent their frustrations.

Simpson could not be reached for comment, as he continues his search for the real killers.