Thursday, April 2, 2009

More Cutler

I'm going to chime in on this Jay Cutler thing a little further. I think he's going to come to regret the decision he made to cry like a little girl when the Broncos originally considered shopping him in a three way trade that would have gotten them Matt Cassel at the start of the Free Agency Period. Because his feelings were so hurt that he could possibly be considered expendable, he got his panties in a knot and he's now found his way into the frozen, windy, Soldier Field on an offense that ranks in the bottom third of the league. Cutler's record as a starter and some stats like his TD-INT ratio are not as good as his Passing Yards numbers, and so he has deceptively snuck into the picture as a top rated QB. I think that with a pretty weak set of receivers and a coaching staff clearly not up to the offensive standards of Mike Shannahan's staff, Cutler is going to see those yardage numbers of his drop off this year. Given all of that, Denver did the best they could in this situation. They got back a QB with some experience in Kyle Orton. He's almost certainly not as good as Cutler, but he's probably workable in the right system and Broncos coach McDaniels has the reputation of being able to develop good quarterbacks. They also get some real high value draft picks with the 18th overall this year and the Bears' first rounder next year. The additional swap of a third rounder for a fifth rounder is essentially irrelevant unless either team gets lucky that deep.

Both teams should be better because of this trade. Chicago certainly gets someone who's better than what they had in their stable and Denver gets rid of a malcontent, actually getting quite a bit in return. I like the trade all around, except for the fact that Chicago will now have an even easier time beating up on the Lions this year.

Cutler to Chicago

Holy cow! The Bears got a quarterback!! Where was Chicago's name in all of the rumours? All I heard about for the last week was that Cutler would go to Tampa, or New York, or Detroit. Who had the Bears in that pool?

In other QB news, Stafford apparently wowed the Lions during his workout on Tuesday. This, of course, means that Detroit will pick him first in the draft, overpay him, then throw him to the wolves where he will be destined for massive failure and disappointment. 'Cause that's how the Lions roll. At least this year though, Detroit will probably win a game. Maybe.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Waiting for the Sweet 16

The madness picks back up in a couple hours and I'm hoping for all of my Elite Eight picks to step up. But in the meantime, here are a few thoughts for today ...
  1. New Jersey has got four guys in the the top 10 in the NHL's +/- category. That goes a long way to telling the story of why they've been so successful this year even without Marty for much of the season.
  2. Tiger is back on course at Bay Hill this week playing in Arnie's event. Unfortunately, he's started off going backwards with a double bogey on the par-5 sixth. I'll be watching to see if Weir can have a decent event. He'll need to settle down a bit though after an up and down start with an eagle and three bogeys in his first nine holes.
  3. The PGA Tour Skins Game appears to be dead. While the event has lost a lot of luster over the years, I always enjoyed watching Freddy make piles of cash in the event even while he couldn't win anything else on tour anymore. I'm hoping that they manage to find a sponsor and make a few tweaks to bring it back to life, but I can't say I'm overly optimistic. Sponsors are pretty tough to come by these days, after all.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Hump Day Trio

The first weekend of March Madness didn't treat me well. After a blazing 16 of 16 start on Thursday, my bracket fell apart in the late games on Friday and then proceeded to have a crappy Sunday as well. When it was all said and done, I had 26 of 32 in round one and just 11 of 16 in round two. The bright side though, is that I've still got all of my Elite Eight picks hanging around, so there's a chance I could go on a real run and come back in the pool!

Now, onto today's Three-fer ...
  1. Goalie Trouble in Detroit - I had the (mis)fortune of seeing the Wings games televised the last two nights. While Conklin filled in admirably when called upon, I've got to admit to being more than a little worried at how bad Osgood looked in the first 26 minutes against Calgary. This is supposed to be the Wings starter through the playoffs and he was letting in softies that even I could have stopped. Once three easy ones were past him, the team spent the rest of the second period playing pretty dejected hockey before mounting an unsuccessful surge in the third. Ozzie is going to have to be better or Detroit will go down early in one of their patented "outplay the other team and get killed by the goaltending matchup" upsets.
  2. Robo-Lance - With a bad fall in Italy on Monday, Lance Armstrong has suffered his first real setback ever in preparing for the Tour. It will be interesting to see how his 37-year old body responds to not being able to stay on plan all the way through July. The most recent updates today are that he's had a five inch plate and a dozen screws installed in his shattered collarbone! I'd say his hopes of riding in yellow, while already slim with advancing age and competition, might just be dashed.
  3. Tigers vs. Catholics - there's another big furor in Detroit today with the release of the Tiger's opening day schedule. It seems that the game is going to be on Good Friday with a 1:05 start. Catholics are up in arms because of the traditional belief that Jesus hung on the cross from noon to 3 pm, and thus most services take place at that time. Says local Rev. Ed Vilkauskas, "Nobody is saying baseball isn't big, but Good Friday is really big. It's 2000 years old." I think the Rev. is just upset that he's going to have to try to sell his tickets in a depressed market.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Who's In Your Lineup?

Compare these NHL stat lines:

Which player would you pick for your team? I'll take the one who is 25 points better in the defensive zone and stays out of the penalty box. But give this a read ...

That first guy is Sidney Crosby, the all-everything player that every team was dying to get when the league pulled the lottery balls for the 2005 draft. He is argued as one of the best players in the league and every episode of Sportscentre shows off his talents. The other guy? He's also an other-worldly talent. Some real hockey insiders recognize him as the best puck-handler in the game and he shows up on the highlight reel from time to time, but certainly doesn't get the notoriety that Sid does. Oh yeah, and he was drafted 171st overall back in 1998. Every team in the league could have had him. Who is he? Check this out ...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Three For Hump Day

In today's top stories ...
  1. Does the NHL's Pacific Division ever suck?! - San Jose has already clinched the division with 13 games left in the season. The closest team to them is Dallas who currently aren't even a playoff team. This is a reminder of the fluidity in the NHL standings when SJ, Dallas, and Anaheim have been playoff regulars for several years while the Central Division has had the bottom feeders in Columbus, St. Louis, Chicago, and Nashville. Two of those four are locks for the postseason and St. Louis is making a run. You just never know from year to year I guess.
  2. 21 Years and Counting - With their come from behind win over the Flyers last night, the Red Wings now haven't lost a game to Philly at Joe Louis Arena since November 4, 1988! If Detroit advances out of the Western Conference this year, can someone please line up the Flyers to win the East?
  3. I'm already 0-for-1 in March Madness - I picked Alabama State to beat Morehead State in the play-in game last night and got that clearly wrong as the Hornets barely managed to put 40 points on the board. I didn't know anything about either team, so my pick was based entirely on the hope that Alabama State's big man would become the best name in the history of the tournament -- Grlenntys Chief Kickingstallionsims.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Another Top 3 List today ...
  1. How Funny is Charles Barkley?! - I've been watching The Haney Project on the Golf Channel the last few weeks. It's quite a concept, with Barkley taking his embarrasing swing in front of a ton of viewers to be dissected and, hopefully, cured. I thought that if Hank Haney could fix it, it would be a miracle, but he seems to be making progress! Charles' swing and the progress he's making prove how mental the game of golf is and listening to him talk about his "hit list" of guys he's going to beat once he gets better is great. I can't get enough of this show!
  2. No love for the Wolverines - the experts' picks are out on SI today and only two of them have Michigan winning Thursday's game against Clemson. While I have to agree that the Wolverines aren't going to advance far this year, I'm giving them a shot since Clemson has lost four of their last five down the stretch. Michigan went cold shooting against Illinois and they'll be looking to prove themselves better in Kansas City this week. I like them to get the win against the Tigers and then bow out to the Sooners in the second round.
  3. Jay Cutler's agent has screwed the Broncos over - Bus Cook (this is the guy who represented Steve McNair and Brett Favre through disastrous off-seasons in the past three years) is at it again, driving a wedge between Cutler and the Broncos. It's impossible to know the whole story, but Cook sure doesn't look good on this one with Cutler demurring on every opinion to his all knowing agent. The one bit of good news in this saga is that it might prove to be an opportunity for the Lions to actually get a QB! Let's wait and see if the new GM in Detroit has the stones to get a deal done before the draft.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Today's Top Three

Again I've abandoned this blog for a long time, despite having many things to say! I would promise that this post will lead to many more, but there's a strong chance that it won't. Be that as it may, I will likely be inclined to write about the next few weeks in sports with March Madness, the NHL playoff race, the Masters and much else coming soon!

I'm going to try to re-format a little in an effort to get myself writing more frequently. With that in mind, I'll attempt to offer a top three thoughts of the day ...
  1. Red Wings bounce back - after getting hammered by Columbus last weekend, Detroit looked like a completely different team with a complete effort in the 4-0 win over the Blue Jackets last night. Still though, giving up 8 goals to Columbus last week and Nashville the week before (not to mention 6 to Calgary mid-week) has got to worry the management that didn't bother to find any goaltending beyond the shaky Osgood with Conklin backing him up. Detroit is going to have a tough go of it trying to defend their championship if the backstop continues to be as shaky as it has appeared lately.
  2. Michigan going dancing - the resume proved to be enough to get the Maize and Blue into March Madness for the first time in 11 seasons. Those wins over Duke and UCLA must have done it, because after watching them come out flat for the second half of what could have amounted to a play-in game Friday vs Illinois, I thought their hopes were in jeopardy. But they've been handed a 10 seed and a date with Clemson on Thursday. It's certainly going to be a stretch to get past the Tigers, but the Wolverines have done a good job this year against favoured opponents. I know I'll be tuning in with excitement!
  3. Phil vs Tiger debate - With the win at Doral yesterday, Phil Mickelson pulls within a hair of El Tigre in the official world rankings. There was talk during the NBC telecast yesterday of how Phil could actually be number 1 and how he might be driven by the desire to be called the World's Best Golfer. But come on - can anyone really consider him the best with Tiger still around?! He's only gotten so close because Tiger has spent the last eight months not earning any ranking points while re-habbing his knee. Phil might take over that #1 ranking, but we'll all still know who the king is. For now, I'm just anxious for the Masters and to see Tiger figure out a putting stroke that looked shaky at Doral. He was every bit as good as Phil from tee to green this week. Now let's just see him get that feel back and continue his winning ways.

Monday, February 23, 2009

No Dancing

There will be no dancing for the Michigan Wolverines basketball team this year. A team that held so much promise early in the year as they took down both UCLA and Duke when the Bruins and Blue Devils were highly ranked, Michigan has gone through Big Ten league play with an inability to get it done on the road. They're just 2-5 in their opponents' buildings. Heading into their final four games, they looked as though they would need to win at least three of them to remain on the bubble and in consideration of a low seed in the tourney. But with yesterday's loss to Big Ten doormat Iowa, they have severely hurt their own cause. Their shooting from the floor was dreadfully inaccurate and their defense didn't manage to step up when they had to a protect a four point lead with a minute to play. The 7-0 run that the Hawkeyes went on to start the OT period was just another sign that the Wolverines, a surprisingly good team at the start of the year, are still just on the cusp of being a contender, but haven't taken the next step yet. Analysts say that John Beilein's teams need to be sharp shooters from the outside to contend because of the system he puts in place, and unfortunately, this year's Michigan team has proven too streaky to get the job done on a consistent basis. There's a lot of hope though that the current team will continue to improve and their success will help with recruitment as well.

I've got my fingers crossed that it won't be much longer before I finally see a Wolverines team in the madness that tips off the third weekend in March!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Red Wings Update

I was very pleased to read today that Detroit is going to really step outside the box to try to get Chris Osgood's game straightened out. Rather than try to have him play it out or simply sit him on the bench and hope for the best, they are taking their supposed number 1 guy and giving him a couple of days of not even dressing for games. He is to work strictly with goalie coach Jim Bedard and take some time to get his head straight. They've called Jimmy Howard up from the minors to back up Conklin in tonight's game against Anaheim and they're going to give Howard an opportunity to start against Minnesota on the weekend.

I think this is great from a whole bunch of standpoints. Osgood has clearly not been himself this year and his play recently has been even worse. He's given up bad goals with bad timing and needs to figure things out. This could be a great opportunity to really bear down and focus on what's been the problem and how he can get right again. In the meantime, they're taking a guy who is supposed to be their goalie of the future and giving him some real time experience. The Wings are in a very fortunate position of not absolutely needing wins right now to make the playoffs or lock up position. A game here and there isn't going to cost them anything, but the upside of giving Howard big time experience is priceless in his development process.

This is just another example of how well the Wings organization is run. Great coaching and management over the last ten years is why they've seen so much success. Now we just need to hope that Ozzie can get rolling so that they've got two guys they can trust heading into the playoffs.