So let's just dive right in.
COLTS at CHIEFS
What's the over on this one, 80? Neither team can play defense and both, as everyone knows, can pile on the points. Kansas City has been awful down the stretch, having failed to beat a team with a winning record since October, and the Colts have finally gotten over their playoff mental block. And let's face it, the Colts are a better team. Kansas City's about as close to a one-man team an NFL team will ever be (yeah, I know they have like 10 Pro Bowlers, but this team is 7-9 without Priest Holmes). Honestly, I don't even think it will be close.
TITANS at PATRIOTS
This one should be epic. The Titans will complain about injuries, with Eddie George nursing a seperated shoulder and Steve McNair's body held together with used gum and rubber bands, but no team's had a worse run of injuries than the Patriots. so sell sympathy somewhere else. McNair is becoming one of those players that you never, ever, ever want to face in the playoffs. The Patriots, however, believe in their system and won't be in awe of anybody. They are the best team in the NFL, and frankly, they know it. really want to say the Titans will pull the upset, but there is no reason to pick against the Patriots right now. Yes, the running game is mediocre. Yes, the receivers are a bunch of waiver wire pickups and retreads. Yes, the team has more injuries than any team has a right to have and still be 14-2. Yet they'll win. Because that's what the Pats do.
PACKERS at EAGLES
The insirational Brett Favre story is great, but let's face it, they haven't exactly beaten a murderer's Row. Even beating Seattle in overtime at home isn't that impressive. Who hasn't beaten the Seahawks away from Seattle? Brian Westbrook may be hurt, but the backup is Duce Staley, who was the starter until this year. We're still on all systems go for the Pats-Eagles Super Bowl. Unless some team steps up, there's no reason to think it won't happen.
PANTHERS at RAMS
Jake Delhomme. The Panthers postseason hopes are pinned on Jake Delhomme. Say what you will about the importance of running the ball, teams that win in the playoffs tend to have a great QB. Failing that, they have an effeceint guy who doesn't make mistakes. The Panthers have Jake Delhomme, the Rams have two immensely talented QB's with a propensity for bad turnovers and freak injuries. Should be a fun one.
posted by Poseur 1/09/2004 12:58:00 PM
Gibbs to the Skins?
Everybody has seemed more interested in Gibbs coaching the Redskins again than Gibbs himself. And by everybody I mean seemingly every man, woman and child who has rooted for the Washington NFL franchise. It had become a cliche to mention Gibbs's name in connection with coaching pro football. So I dismissed the e-mailer because why would this time be any different from all the other times, like when Jack Kent Cooke fired Richie Petitbon, or when Snyder fired Norv Turner or Marty Schottenheimer?
So this news that Gibbs apparently is seriously considering coming back to coach the Redskins is stunning. As the Redskins devolved from champion to contender to challenger to dysfunctional chump, the cry for Gibbs to come back has turned desperate. With every losing season and this descent into football hell, Gibbs went from genius to football god to, well, savior.
The Packers have won since Lombardi, the Giants and Patriots have reached Super Bowls since Parcells, the Eagles have threatened to win since Vermeil. But the Redskins have been to one lousy playoff game since Gibbs left. And when Steve Spurrier resigned last week, the desperate cry went out one more time from the sycophants who wondered who out there reminds anybody of Coach Gibbs. D.C. has never gotten over him leaving. The late Shirley Povich might disagree, but it seems to me the pecking order of sports icons around here is Gibbs first, Walter Johnson second.
Why? Why come back? Gibbs isn't just an icon, he's a god in the DC area. With every losing season, Gibbs grows in stature and those Super Bowl trophies look further away. What does he have to prove? Why would you work for Dan Snyder? Gibbs already worked for Jack Kent Cooke, one of the most vile men to ever own a football team. Is he looking to see who is more evil?
I'm sure Gibbs would do well. He's an amazing coach, and he won three Super Bowls with the Redskins. I'm just not sure what else he has to prove. why put yourself through the hell again? And since he's doing so well at racing, why not move on to a third sport a win that as well?
posted by Poseur 1/07/2004 08:52:00 AM
Congrats to the Eck and Molitor!
Paul Molitor 431 85.18
Dennis Eckersley 421 83.20
Ryne Sandberg 309 61.07
Bruce Sutter 301 59.49
Jim Rice 276 54.55
Andre Dawson 253 50.00
Rich Gossage 206 40.74
Lee Smith 185 36.56
Bert Blyleven 179 35.38
Jack Morris 133 26.28
Steve Garvey 123 24.31
Tommy John 111 21.94
Alan Trammell 70 13.83
Don Mattingly 65 12.85
Dave Concepcion 57 11.26
Dave Parker 53 10.47
Dale Murphy 43 8.50
There is no better Hall of Fame than baseball's, and that is because it is so damn difficult to merit election. Look at the names coming up short: Jim Rice, Ryne Sandberg, Andre Dawson, Goose Gossage, Bert Blyleven. These are great, great players. But not Hall of Famers, at least not yet.
I don't have a lot of time today, but I do want to go over who deserves induction among the non-qualifiers. But today, let's just congratulate the two who made it, both deservedly. A strange class though, a DH and a closer. That's got to drive traditionalists nuts. Oh well, both of these guys were great players.
Welcome to Cooperstown.
posted by Poseur 1/07/2004 08:46:00 AM
Mailbag RE: Pete Rose
I read all my mail and try and respond to all of it. You send me something, I try and at least respond. But since anything on Pete Rose brings people of all stripes to flood my inbox, I'm setting some ground rules on whether or not you'll get a reply at all.
1) If you say at any point, "his off-the-field sins shouldn't affect on-field accomplishments" or some variation thereof, you are an idiot. The reason gabling is a big no-no is because it EFFECTS THE GAME. It is an ON-FIELD sin. And two, the Hall of Fame has a morals clause, so gambling, whoring, taking drugs, lying, adultering, and cheating on your taxes are relevent (all sins Rose committed).
2) Know the goddamn rules. Seriously. Rose is on baseball's permanently ineligible list. The Hall of Fame, a seperate entity, has a rule stating that any player on baseball's permanently ineligible list cannot be lected to the Hall of Fame. so, in effect, Rose is banned from two seperate institutions. Baseball isn't keeping Rose out of Cooperstown, the Hall itself is.
3) If you want to argue the punishment is too severe, fine. But them's the rules, and you better not be arguing for Rose, but for all players banned for gambling: the Black Sox, Hal Chase, everybody. Arguing for a Pete Rose exemption to the rule is bizarre, as he's done nothing to merit an exemption. I'll be happy to argue the rule itself with you, but come prepared to talk about the Black Sox.
4) We're just talking about a plaque. Remember, Rose is in the record books, he's not blacked out of Hall of Fame exhibits or anything. He just doesn't get a plaque.
OK, thanks for understanding. Fire away.
posted by Poseur 1/06/2004 11:09:00 AM
Another Knicks trade
The players are almost insignificant. so here is what matters: the Knicks get a point guard, a gate attraction, and a hometown hero in Stephon Marbury. They also get themselves into further cap trouble, but at this point, who cares? They were already in cap jail, now they at least have a good player on the team.
The Suns, on the other hand, make out like bandits. They have more money than they know what to do with and two first round picks in the upcoming draft, both of which could be lottery picks. The suns aren't going anywhere this year and the only player on their team worth keeping is Amare Stoudamire. they now have the cash and the picks to surround him with talent. Hopefully, by the time they do, some of the powers in the west will have gotten weaker via age and free agency. It's a good plan, and better than their current tact.
Both teams win in this deal.
posted by Poseur 1/06/2004 08:36:00 AM
US beats Canda in World Junior Hockey finals
Fleury's attempt to clear a loose puck led to the winning goal with 5 minutes 12 seconds remaining in the game. His shot hit the right shoulder of defenceman Braydon Coburn and the puck bounced into the Canadian goal. Patrick O'Sullivan, who plays for the Mississauga IceDogs of the Ontario Hockey League, received credit for the goal. It was his second goal of the third period.
The goal was reminiscent of the faux pas made by Edmonton Oilers defenceman Steve Smith, who bounced an attempted pass off the leg of goalie Grant Fuhr into his own net for a Calgary Flames goal that eliminated the Oilers from the playoffs in 1986.
Like most of his teammates, Fleury was shaken at the turn of events. Canada blew a 3-1 lead in the third.
The punchline is that this is a front page story in Canada, and it's a 15 second blip on SportsCenter here in the States. It makes me feel bad. Really. This is Canada's national game, their entire identity is wrapped up in this game, and they lose to the indifferent Americans. The players obviously care, but outside of a few hockey strongholds, this doesn't even break the "Sports in Brief" box on page two.
If we're going to crush someone's hopes, we should at least give a rat's ass about it.
posted by Poseur 1/06/2004 08:28:00 AM
When Nick Saban took the LSU job four Decembers ago, he called the program he had chosen to lead a sleeping giant.
You wondered at the time if he believed it, if he believed he made the right decision leaving a promising construction job at Michigan State.
Four years later, Saban has made everyone believe.
On a steamy January night, the giant awoke. A giant that tore the roof off the Superdome with purple and gold paws and threatened to turn the place into a giant daiquiri cup for the all-night French Quarter blowout party that was to follow.
I could actually feel my heart pounding during the last five minutes of the game. Every last second collapse over tha past decade just came flooding back with a simple thought, this time it'll be different. and it was. It's hard to explain the sheer level of passion the LSU Nation has for its Tigers, but I'll try and sum it up for you like this:
My parents, both LSU alums, moved their wedding because of a scheduling conflict. They had scheduled it the same weekend as an LSU-Rice game. In Houston. And most of the family sent in their regrets and went on the road trip to watch the Tigers. So, my parents switched the date to an off date. I mean, a family wedding can't compete with the Tigahs.
As a kid, I used to sit on the roof with my dad on Saturday nights with an old Panasonic radio. WWL had a clear channel and we could catch the broadcasts of LSU football. Some kids grew up on fairy tales, I grew up on tales opf Billy Cannon. When I got out of LSU, my father gave me his old class ring, bought from a former LSU player on his summer job: NFL Hall of Famer Jim Taylor. I called it my Jimmy Taylor ring, but when my dad died four years ago, it became even more special: it was my dad's ring.
He would have loved it. My mom always was a bigger fan, though. She would stomp and swear, scream and cry. She still won't step foot on Tennessee's campus because of a game in 1959. I'm not much different, I'm still bitter about the 1994 interception game in Auburn.
But it was all worth it. Every loss, every gut-wrenching moment. All of the years wandering in the wilderness. Those stupid Curly Hallman commercials ("my favorite play is a sack, a sack of Golden Flake potato chips that is"). That loss to Miami of Ohio after beating FSU. That loss to UAB before beating Tennessee. 58-3. Kevin Mawae crying at midfield knowing he would never have a winning season (still the guttiest player ever to wear purple and gold and my favorite Tiger from my days in school). Jamie Howard. The Purple Pants game. 30 years of losing to Bama. Every freakish game to Auburn over the last decade. Bring Back the Magic. Sheddrick Wilson. Gabe Northern. Mike Calais. The Big 5. Josh Booty. Elephants Fly. The Earthquake Game. The Cigar Game. Watching Auburn-Bama every year needing one team to win to win the West and it always turning out the wrong way.
Worth it, worth it, worth it.
National Champs. Geaux Tigers.
posted by Poseur 1/05/2004 08:39:00 AM
How about them Packers, eh? A lot will be made of Brett Favre, but let's give huge credit to Mike Sherman, who gambled twice on fourth down to great success. The players fed off the confidence the coaches had in them. For all of the talk about whose team is it this week, we have our answer: it's Mike Sherman's team.
And the Cowboys sure got exposed, didn't they?
posted by Poseur 1/05/2004 08:21:00 AM
Rose admits to being a scumbag
In an upcoming book and interview, Rose will admit he bet on baseball, and on the Reds when he was a manager. This, we already knew except for the truly self-delusional. I have never been in the camp that believes if Rose admits his sins, we should just forgive him.
This isn't an off-field foible. Gambling strikes at the very integrity of the game. If players are gambling, it's a very short hop and skip to fixing games or shaving points. And if the play on the field isn't on the level, we don't have sports, we have professional wrestling. Without the inherent unpredictability and spotaneity of live competition, sports has no hold on us. It's why leagues care so much about gambling and it is, even more than drugs or steroids, the worst sin a player or coach can commit.
Screw Pete Rose.
posted by Poseur 1/05/2004 08:19:00 AM