Monday, May 15, 2006

These days in sports.....

  • Barry Bonds' pursuit of Babe Ruth bores me. He's a cheater who is probably the most arrogant athlete of our time. Sure it's a big deal, and maybe I should care more about the fact that he is passing an icon, but Bonds is the most unlikeable character in sports. Any recognition that goes his way is bad for baseball, despite what some people may say.
  • The Pirates are pathetic. Not much of an opinion, I realize that, but think about it. Thirteen years of losing kinda wears on me. Economics have a huge say in their performance on the field over the years, but that's not everything. Yeah, the Reds are doing well. But they probably won't keep up this pace and will be in the middle of the pack before long. Having said that, when's the last time the Pirates even were in a situation such as the Reds? When were they contenders? I can't even remember. I care less and less about baseball as each day passes. It's a sport I want to love but poor economics in the majors combined with an ownership group that has done absolutely nothing the past decade plus has made me feel this way.
  • Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are scoring like crazy in the World Championships. If the Pens stay in Pittsburgh (which more and more I am believing will be the case), how bright does their future look when you add Marc-Andre Fleury in the mix?
  • The Steelers didn't make a splash in free agency this year. They rarely are involved in any contract negotiations with players outside of their organization. But they continue to win. Great drafting and outstanding coaching gets it done. Tell that to Washington Redskins' owner Daniel Snyder. He still hasn't received the memo apparently.
  • NBA vs. NHL? Which is better? I've debated it before. But all I know is this: the NBA is on TV every single day while the NHL has poorly marketed their fantastic sport in a year that is absolutely critical for the league being that they are just coming off of a one-year labor stoppage. Note to Gary Bettman: GET YOUR PRODUCT ON BASIC CABLE. Or continue to have 75% of the country not even caring about its very existence.
  • When Joe Randa comes off of the disabled list, he'll probably take over again at third in place of Freddy Sanchez who is playing great baseball. I wonder why the Pirates stink so bad?
  • Three of the top pitching prospects on the Pirates roster are on either the 60-day or 15-day DL with nagging injuries that won't go away. Why is every propect the Pirates have either hurt or too far away from being able to contribute.
  • Brad Eldred, a first baseman in the minors who is said to have unbelievable all-star type power is out for the season probably in AAA Indianapolis. When does he lose the tag of "top prospect"? The "youngster" will be 28 when he hits the field again. Exactly what is he a prospect of anymore?
  • When does training camp for the Steelers begin?

Monday, May 08, 2006

Houston Texans taking way too much heat

I don’t know about you but I think the Houston Texans organization is taking way too much heat for not selecting Reggie Bush in last weeks NFL Draft. If anyone studied the Texans over the course of the past two or three seasons, they would easily see an offensive line that couldn’t protect David Carr and a defense that couldn’t stop anyone.

Domanick Davis is a solid NFL running back; there really is no disputing that. Now while Reggie Bush may end up being a superstar at that position, it can easily be argued that running back is not a pressing need in Houston. Can Reggie Bush block? Has he played center or offensive tackle at some point in time during his career? If so then all of the bashing the Texans organization has taken is justified. But when you have the number 1 pick in the draft, you can’t draft for best player available. You draft for need. What position are you weak in? Where are you in most need of a great football player? Houston needs a defense and an offensive line. The Pittsburgh Steelers can afford to draft the best available player because they have no glaring weakness at any one position. The Texans and other teams with high draft picks just can’t afford to do that.

Perhaps a better argument would be that the Texans should have taken D’Brickashaw Ferguson, the offensive tackle from Virginia who went third overall to the Jets rather than Mario Williams, the defensive end from North Carolina State. That argument makes more sense. However, if the Texans needed defense that bad, don’t you think it’s perfectly reasonable to draft the best defensive player available in the draft then?

Now this isn’t in any way taking away from what Reggie Bush can bring to a team. He is an electric playmaker on the offensive side of the football. Would the Texans be better than last season with Reggie Bush? Absolutely. No one is disputing that. I feel that the Texans believe Mario Williams, however, fulfills more of a glaring weakness on a team that is very bad. Michael Irvin argued that points win championships, not defense like so many people believe. I would then like to ask Michael Irvin why the NFL even has a defense. He discredits defense because points are all that matter? Is he joking? That’s like saying the Steel Curtain defense of the 70s wasn’t as important as a Jeff Reed is to the Steelers today, because after all the kicker gets more points every year. Moreover, if Kansas City had the first overall pick this year, would they have taken Reggie Bush with Larry Johnson and Priest Holmes on their roster? Or would they look to the defensive side of things being that they couldn’t stop anybody last year?

The fact of the matter is that it was still a difficult decision for Houston management to consider. Reggie Bush or Mario Williams? Reggie Bush would have been a great pick. That doesn’t mean that Mario Williams isn’t. Let’s stop bashing the Texans because Mel Kiper Jr. had Reggie Bush a higher rated player on his board.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Hockey vs. Basketball Debate

I was, for some odd reason, watching Stephen A. Smith's "Quite Frankly" on ESPN two nights ago when an interesting segment came on. Barry Melrose was asked to debate why he thinks hockey is better than basketball.

Basically, Barry Melrose didn't have a chance on the show. Smith pointed to the fact that the NBA has LeBron James, Gilbert Arenas, Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade, etc. etc. etc. and all the NHL had was Sidney Crosby with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Now forget about the fact that there are about 15 other young stars in the NHL that Stephen A. Smith ignorantly chose to ignore. The way in which he said, "And don't even get me started on how bad the Pittsburgh Penguins are!!" was insane. What? Did he just conclude that since the Pens are a bad team Sidney Crosby can't be good for the NHL? Is he a complete moron? Well, yeah he is. But has he realized that LeBron James' Cavaliers have stunk up until this year when they finally were able to make the playoffs? Wait and see where the Pens are in 3 years and see where Sidney Crosby is then.

Nonetheless, the debate is an interesting one if you don't have mullet head Barry Melrose and the ignorant Stephen A. "I love basketball and nothing else" Smith arguing on each side. I'm biased, so I'll easily conclude that hockey is better, but let's take a look into the topic deeper.

TV Ratings:
Basketball is on ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, and ABC. The market for basketball is all over TV and the average fan can easily watch their games. Hockey is on....the outdoor life network? I've been against this TV contract from the get go. How can you expect to get back your fan base when about 75% of homes in America don't even get OLN? Oh, and why the hell is hockey on the outdoor channel channel anyways? What's next, The NHL on Food TV with hosts Emeril and Rachel Ray?

Entertainment level:
Anyone who understands both the games of basketball and hockey cannot honestly admit to me that a hockey game is any less interesting than an NBA game. I can sit down and watch an NBA game if I feel like it, but an NHL game is much more interesting. You'll have some basketball fans out there saying, "Man, hockey is nothing but a bunch of fighting!" to which my reply is, "have you ever even watched an NHL game?" I respect the opinions of those who understand both sports and have watched both sports. However, what I can't stand are people like Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith saying hockey stinks having never watched a single period of hockey. I hate that more than anything.

Stars in the game:
This argument is difficult. If we are talking about who we see on TV all the time and people that we know, most will give the edge to the NBA. However, the great NHL players are some of the most talented and remarkable athletes in the world. I will give the nod to the NBA here only because I truly believe NBA players are also some of the most talented and amazing athletes in the world. This isn't to take anything away from hockey players, I just feel the stars of the NBA are all over the TV world and are amazing athletes as well. The athleticism factor is a tie, but when talking about marketability, the NBA wins hands down....stupid ass OLN!

Tougher Championship to win:
I'm sorry, but when I see on ESPN how Dwayne Wade is missing a game because of a bad pinky finger, I laugh. I realize shooting the basketball requires all fingers, but what pansies. Hockey players play through any and all injuries. In the playoffs, players are battered, tired, beat up and injured...and they play through it all. It's an absolute grind to win 16 high-intensity NHL games to win the Stanley Cup. This isn't to discredit the NBA's road to the championship, it's just to say that the road in the NHL is much tougher.

Parity level:
Stephen A. Smith ripped on the NHL because their "supposed best team the Detroit Red Wings" were ousted in the first round of the playoffs and how much of a joke that was. I say, I think that's awesome. Championships and great teams aren't determined after an 82 game regular season schedule. This isn't NCAA Football. The playoffs are part of the NHL's season. As is the NBA's. If you can't win in the first round of a playoff series even if you finished first in points in the regular season, then you weren't durable enough or you just didn't work hard enough to win a title. Parity wasn't really possible two years ago in the "Look out we're headed down the same road as baseball" era of the NHL. But with a salary cap, the Stanley Cup is up for grabs. The NBA has some parity, to an extent, but upsets are more likely in the NHL because home ice advantage isn't as much a factor in hockey as is home court advantage in basketball. The away team in the NBA rarely wins on the road, putting all it's emphasis on how well you do in the regular season.

All in all, you have to give the NBA some credit. I would not argue with anyone who tells me NBA players are more athletic and talented, because I think it's very close. And while the TV ratings easily go to the NBA, the NHL has a much faster, energized and passionate sport. People who say they can't see the puck are either Stevie Wonder, old, or people who don't even want to watch the game so they make up the most stupid argument against the sport. I believe hockey is a much better sport. Hey ignorant basketball fans, you're sport isn't hands down better than the NHL and hockey isn't hard to understand. Hey ignorant hockey fans, while you rip on the NBA for being all over TV and how that's all ESPN least their own TV. Oh wait, The NHL is on right after "How to shoot a deer at night". GREAT!