Thursday, November 17, 2005

Random notes

Apologies agian, as law school applications pretty much engulfed my free time for the past three weeks. Thankfully, that process is winding down. Random observations.

-I'm watching the Knicks/Lakers game right now, and the Knicks are decidedly better with their rookies and other young'uns on the floor. Isiah Thomas needs to do what he can to trade away some of these veteran contracts and build the team around Channing Frye, Eddy Curry, and Trevor Ariza. I think in two years, they should have two more defensive/rebounding type players that will make them a legitimate contender under Larry Brown. Until then, they'll be a 8 seed tease. I'd be even more optimistic if it weren't Zeke as the GM.

-Baseball issues: I'm a big fan of the increased steroid punishments. I've gone on record saying that I personally don't care that much whether or not guys use steroids, but the publicity is so bad for the sport that they need to be eradicated. Maybe someday there will be a legal method of healing injuries and building endurance, but until then, players are just gonna have to pump themselves up with amphetamines...oh wait, those are banned now too. Look for Red Bull to become a locker room staple next year.

-The Dodgers missed a golden opportunity to make baseball history. They passed over their own employee, Kim Ng, for San Francisco assistant GM Ned Coletti. Coletti's main role with the Giants was negotiating contracts, most famously the contract Bonds signed after his 2001 season. Having a contracts guy is great--if he's the assistant. Ng has been involved in player development, scouting, and arbitration, and knows the Dodger organization top to bottom. There's no doubt that she was the most qualified candidate for that particular job. The move doesn't make much sense from the PR standpoint either. Owner Frank McCourt could have cooled the media firestorm by hiring a well-qualified candidate who would just happen to become a pioneer--the first Asian American and the first woman GM. But I guess that would have made too much sense. I hope that Ng will get her chance somewhere else, because she has really paid her dues.

-The first major trade is being reported as Mike Cameron to the Padres for Xavier Nady. This is addition by subtraction for the Mets. With Cameron gone, the promising Victor Diaz will now get a place in right field, where Cameron's glove was wasted. Cameron's salary also goes, giving them room to make runs at Billy Wagner, B.J. Ryan, and Paul Konerko. Nady is an nice complementary player who has time on his side at age 27. He's a decent power hitter (13 HR in 327 AB), and is valuable as a 4th outfielder. Good enough to be an everyday first baseman, though? Not so sure about that. He'd have to raise his production substantially. Cameron is a good fit for Petco, although I wonder how much longer his plus defense will last. Red Sox fans will rejoice, because this means Dave Roberts is expendable.

-The field for the 2006 World Cup finals are set, after yesterday's playoffs saw Trinidad and Tobago, Australia, and Switzerland scrape by, Australia on penalties (traditional powers Spain and the Czech Rep. breezed). It's their first finals appearance in 3 decades, and marks the first ever appearance for T+T. The Switzerland/Turkey match was riveting, and I was following on the internet. Can't imagine how good it will be live (and hopefully in person). Most nations stopped playing meaningful games a while ago, so it's pretty much impossible to make an educated guess about any team other than Brazil. The other 3 semi-finalists will be tougher to come by. England is up, France is down, Argentina is up, Germany is down, though they'll have homefield advantage. The Netherlands, Portugal, Mexico, USA, and Spain are legitimate challengers. Can't make any real predicitons until the groups are drawn and we see which of these teams will be grouped together in a "group of death".

-Philadelphia's reign atop the NFC came to spectacular end on Monday, as they blew a 13-point 4th quarter lead to fall to 4-5 and 0-3 in the division. Philly might be best served by shelving McNabb and fixing up his groin and getting a good draft pick in the process. Last year just about everything broke Philly's way, and this year it couldn't have been worse, with McNabb's impression of McNair and Owens's egotism to go along with a slew of other injuries. Philly's real problem is their offensive line, which they must address in the draft. McNabb took too many beatings this year for him to hold up for an entire season.

-This coming Sunday's Bengals/Colts game would be bigger if Cincy had one more win. As it is, the Colts will probably get a bye even if they lose. Cincy has to win to have a shot at the bye, though I believe Pittsburgh still holds the advantage in the division. This game could surprise some people, because I think Indy will try to play a grinding clock game with Edgerrin James to keep Palmer and Johnson squared off the field, then find a time to strike with deep passes. I don't see Cincy's defensive front stopping James, and frankly, with Manning's quick release, I don't see them getting too many sacks either. It will be a close game, because it's at Cincy, but I see the Colts winning by 10 in the end. If this prediction is wrong, your pizza is free.

-Still haven't been able to catch a full NHL game, because by the time I get home, the games are already halfway over on OLN. What I loved about ESPN2 is that they showed West Coast late games two nights a week. Not so on the Lance Armstrong network. I really wish the Blackhawks were good, not because I like them, but because I would then want to watch them. As it is their owner blacks out the home games and the B'Hawks are the league's worst road team. Not exactly an exciting recipe. I'll make it down to the United Center at some point when an entertaining team is in town, and I'll weigh in with my two cents on the new NHL. From what I've observed, the biggest difference is the expansion of the offensive zones, which really opens up the ice when a team is in possession and also allows for long breakout passes. Of course, so many penalties are being called, it's tough to assess the true effects. The expanded zones certainly help out the power play, and that's why scoring has gone up so much. I suspect that there are some pretty frivolous penalty calls going on, and I hope that stops. You have to be able to clear out in front of the goal; it's the obstruction penalties in the neutral zone that need to be called. I think the new style has the potential to become the perfect blend of skill and hitting, but it'll take a compromise from both the officials and the players to work.

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