Saturday, January 31, 2009

Super prediction


I know you've been waiting for this, so here comes my Super Bowl pick.

I actually think, despite the 7-point spread, this game will be a lot closer than the 'experts' might think. The Steelers are ... well, the Steelers. They have a punishing defense and an offense that finds a way to get a big score even if it's not the most efficient group in the NFL.

Ben Roethlisberger certainly isn't pretty, but he gets the job done. And with Troy Polamalu and James Harrison, Pittsburgh's offense doesn;t have to do a whole lot to get the win.

The Cardinals are -- pardon the pun -- flying high these days. Kurt Warner is as efficient as he's been spectacular at times this season and if there was a better all-around receiver than Larry Fitzgerald in these playoff I'd certainly like to know who it is.

The Arizona defense has been maligned a bit during the regular season, but it certainly has found itself in the postseason. And they have this certain intangible you just can't put your finger on right now.

That said, I still think the Steelers will have just a little too much for them.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Legacy tarnished?

In the days since the excerpts of the Joe Torre book in which the former Yankee manager took swipes at members of his former team became public, I've been trying to get a handle as to why Torre would choose to go this route with his former team.

I still can't entirely figure it out -- other than millions of dollars he's sure to get for it -- but if you listen to most Yankee fans, this certainly tarnishes his legacy in pinstripes. And I tend to agree.

For me it comes down to two basic points.

1) In these excerpts -- which probably make up less than 5 percent of the book if you listen to his co-author (Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated and the MLB Network) -- the book talks about the growing distrust Torre had toward the front office and how he had been disappointed that GM Brian Cashman didn't have his back on several occasions.

Yet, at the end of the 2007 season when Torre had flown to Tampa to meet with the Yankee brass, it was widely reported Torre's decision to not return had everything to do with the fact the Yankees wanted him to take a $2 million paycut -- from $7 to $5. So, if there had been this much distrust in the front office, why would Torre want to go back in the first place.

I'm pretty certain he didn't need the money, so would he have sold his soul -- so to speak -- and return to the Yankees for $2 million. That would be like one of us doing the same for $50.

2) The second point is the "dirty laundry" that the book airs -- not only about A-Rod, but other players as well. I heard Verducci being interviewed yesterday and in that interview he said the book is written from a third-person perspective and not everything in the book is directly attributable to Torre.

Ok. But the book is by Joe Torre and Tom Verducci, so not only does Torre know everything that's in the book, but he totally endorses it, or why would his name be on the book. That said, when Torre managed the Yankees he was always the calm in the storm, the one that sat in the managers office and preached what happened in that Yankee clubhouse stayed in the Yankee clubhouse.

I guess a year away from a bitter "divorce" from that organization was enough to alter that thinking. Look, I don't know Joe Torre. I've never met Joe Torre, so I can't sit here and tell you whether Torre's a bitter man who still craves the New York spotlight -- as has been suggested by many Yankee fans.

What I will say, however, is it certainly appears as though the plague in Monument Park that probably had been earmarked for Torre down the road is a lot less certain now.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Drawing the line

I read a story recently about a Texas high school girls basketball team beating its opponent 100-0 and it made me think, 'where was the sportsmanship in this game.'

In the story, a parent of a player on the opposing team, said the thing that disturbed her the most was the winning team kept their collective foot on the pedal and didn't stop shooting 3-point field goals until they reached the 100-0 score with about 4:00 left in the game. It also sounded as through their starters played a majority of the game despite its team leading 59-0 at halftime.

Look, I'm the last one who would argue that you play the game to win the game, or, as an area coach once asked, 'then why do we keep score.' But 100-0 sounds ridiculous.

The coach has to be held accountable since he/she is the adult and sets the example. I've heard talk of establishing some sort of mercy rule in basketball and while in most cases I would not be in favor of having one, I think there has to be a point where common sense takes over.

You can't help but feel terrible for the opposing team in this game. I know blowouts are a part of the game, but no coach should let it get that far out of hand.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Championship predictions

OK. I know you all have been waiting days for this, so here they are -- my NFC and AFC championship game predictions.

Let's start with the NFC:

Both the Eagles and Cardinals have had magical runs to get to this point. I mean who would've expected a for-the-birds NFC title game? The run, however, will end for one of these teams and that team will be the Cardinals.

The Eagles are simply a better team. They're battle-tested coming from the NFC East and more experienced in these type of games. The prediction: Eagles 27, Cardinals 14.

Now for the AFC:

The Ravens and Steelers are pretty evenly-matched if you go by their regular-season matchups. Baltimore might be the hottest team in the AFC from its dismantling of Dallas several weeks ago to knocking off top-seeded Tennessee last week.

But the Steelers are equally as hot and they're at home, so I guess I have to give them the slight edge in what should be a physical matchup. We'll go with: Steelers 17, Ravens 14.

Now, let's see if I do any better than I've done in previous weeks.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Can't wait for baseball

Maybe it's because I'm a baseball fan. Or maybe it's because it feels like minus-300 degrees outside, but I for one am counting the days until pitchers and catchers report to spring training next month.

Seeing or reading about the happenings in Florida and Arizona just makes things seem a little warmer around here.

It should also be an interesting season with both New York teams making major moves this offseason to bolster their chances for making the playoffs. But that's a topic we'll touch upon before the season begins.

For now, the thought of spring training being right around the corner makes it a touch easier for me to go outside in layers of sweaters, hats, gloves and winter coats.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Picks fall flat -- again

If I've said it once, I've said it a million times -- if anyone relies on me making predictions, tjose people need to find someone else to listen to.

Let's 1 for 4, .250, my batting average for this weekend's NFL playoff picks. That might get me a minor-league contract in baseball, but that's pretty horrible when it comes to predictions.

My picks: Giants, Titans, Panthers. WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. I did get the Steelers so I have that going for me.

Now I'm going to wait until we closer to the weekend to give you my championship game picks.

I know you're all breathless with anticipation, but, hey, I know I can't get more than two wrong this week.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Here's your final four

OK, so I already gave my prediction for the Giants-Eagles game on Sunday, but who do I think will be joining Big Blue in the NFLs' version of the Final Four.

Cardinals at Panthers

Does anybody really think Arizona has a shot in this game? I certainly don't. Carolina is too good, too deep and the Panthers will prove it this week. Carolina 27, Arizona 13

Ravens at Titans

Here is your best best -- probably -- for the upset, but I think I will give Tennessee the nod because of home-field advantage. Not a lot of scoring here, so let's say: Titans 12, Ravens 10

Chargers at Steelers

About the only thing that can keep this close is whether Ben Roethlisberger's concussion is worse than anybody thought. If not, Steelers have too much against a banged-up San Diego team. Pittsburgh 24, San Diego 17

Monday, January 5, 2009

Giant week ahead

Is it just me, or have these NFL playoffs shaped up to crown our first repeat champion in a few years.

I know Giants' fans don't want to hear this, but who out there are you TRULY afraid of -- the Eagles, Cardinals or Panthers in the NFC, or the Steelers, Ravens, Titans or Chargers in the AFC?

We'll highlight the Eagles this week, since they're the Giants opponents this Sunday.

Was anybody really impressed with Philadelphia's win against Minnesota on Sunday. I certainly wasn't. The Vikings are a one-trick pony (Adrian Petersen being that one-trick pony) that won a VERY mediocre NFC North.

The Eagles struggled to score on offense and actually saw Minnesota move the ball pretty well at times against their highly-rated defense.

I know a few weeks back, the Eagles beat the Giants at the Meadowlands, but this is not the same Giants' team that struggled at the time.

My early prediction -- Giants 27, Eagles 10.