Monday, April 30, 2007

Quickie thoughts about the NFL draft, the NBA playoffs, the NHL playoffs, and Little League:

- The 49ers’ biggest needs going into the draft were wide receiver, defensive line, offensive line, and linebacker. They managed to address all of them pretty well.

o Wide receiver: Getting Darrell Jackson (from a divisional foe, no less) for a 4th round pick was a coup, because no 4th round pick would have been able to contribute right away. Drafting Jason Hill in the 3rd round is similar to the Frank Gore strategy of picking high talent with an injury risk.

o Offensive line: Potentially their best selection. Joe Staley was widely considered to be the 3rd best tackle behind Joe Thomas and Levi Brown (and no 49er fan would ever accept someone named Joe Thomas). Some have claimed that the high price (1st round pick next year + a 4th round pick this year) was too steep. Not me, especially if this move precedes the elimination of Kwame Harris.

o Linebacker: Derek Smith and Jeff Ulbrich are approaching the age where injuries become common for linebackers, and apparently, Mike Singletary fell in love with Patrick Willis at the Senior Bowl. Uh, I defer to Mike Singletary when it comes to evaluating inside linebackers.

o Defensive line: Ray McDonald is another Frank Gore roll of the dice. A solid performer for most of his college career, he’s been banged up with various injuries and slid a round or two. If he listens to Bryant Young, he’ll be a steal.

- All of this adds up to 9-7 for the 49ers. Only time will tell whether that’s good enough to win the decidedly mediocre NFC West.

- Apparently sweeping a team in the regular season actually means something in the playoffs, wouldn’t you say, Dirk? Amazing how an MVP candidate can be completely neutralized by a game plan emphasizing quick double teams and physical play. I can’t remember MJ, Magic, Bird, or even Steve Nash being completely shut down like Dirk is being shut down in the series against the Warriors. Either Don Nelson is a genius or Dirk shouldn’t be in the MVP hunt. Or both.

- If we have Phoenix, Denver, Golden State, and Houston make it to the next round in the West, nobody will watch the Eastern conference playoffs. What would you rather watch, Detroit beating Toronto 82-75, or Phoenix and Golden State playing a 118-112 thriller?

- Not sure how the Sharks choked away that 2-0 lead in Game Two against the Wings, but I’m afraid that it come back to haunt them. They must jump on the Wings tonight and put them away early and spend the rest of the game pissing off Dominick Hasek. They need to get into his head, and he has a notoriously short fuse.

- Trevor’s team lost to a team managed by Gregg Jeffries on Saturday. He pitched like crap for the first time all year, giving up some booming hits, mainly because he wasn’t getting ahead in the count. As I’ve said before, his fastball isn’t good enough to dominate hitters, and he has to come in the strike zone with it, he’ll get drilled. I think he was nervous about pitching in front of a former major-leaguer. He did get two hits off of Jeffries’ kid though, including a clutch, two-run, bases-loaded gapper that tied the score in the sixth. I think Trevor’s coach overmanaged the game, the Little League equivalent of FPS. He kept calling for fancy pickoff plays and baserunning maneuvers that ended up backfiring. If they had played straight up with no (attempted) fancy plays, they probably could have won the game.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

For those of you planning to miss the upcoming Democratic Presidential debate, I will provide a Cliff’s Notes transcript.

Clinton: Bush is an idiot. I have more experience than the other candidates because of all my time in the Senate and White House, even though I’m totally unelectable due to being a woman and widely despised.

Obama: Bush is an idiot. I appeal to the liberal base better than the other candidates because I’m youthful and telegenic, even though I’m totally unelectable due to being black and unqualified.

Edwards: Bush is an idiot. I'm white and male, I have nice hair, my wife has cancer, and fewer Americans hate me.

Others: We’re not going to say anything against the top three in case they need a VP.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Revenge is a dish best served during the playoffs...

OK, here’s a hockey quiz. Your leading goal-scorer and defending Rocket Richard Trophy winner gets kneed and elbowed at the same time. He’s knocked out for the duration of the playoffs with a blown knee and a missing chiclet. How many periods do you wait before slamming Paul Kariya’s fluid-filled skull into the sideboards and sending him into the Troy Aikman/Steve Young Broadcasting School for the Permanently Impaired?

a. One, retribution must be swift and severe
b. Two, you don’t want to make it TOO obvious
c. Wait till you get a big lead or a big deficit
d. Wait till you get home ice and can dictate the matchup
e. Disable his airbags and slam into the front of his car

The Stanley Cup Playoffs started with a vengeance last night (and this morning) with three of the four games decided by one goal, and two going into multiple overtimes. The NHL playoffs are the best professional postseason tournament in the world. The intensity level is ratcheted up eleven notches, the overtimes are exhausting for the players and fans, the goaltending is spectacular, everything you could possibly enjoy about hockey is magnified… minus the fights.

Scott Hartnell’s cheap shot on Jonathan Cheechoo will probably sideline Cheechoo for the remainder of the playoffs, and Hartnell will likely be suspended at least one game. But the most intriguing aspect of the hit will be the payback. Most hockey fans know that Paul Kariya is Nashville’s leading playmaking threat. They also know that Kariya has had multiple concussions throughout his career. The quiz above might seem facetious, but I guarantee that if Cheechoo is done for the playoffs, the Sharks are contemplating answers a, b, c, and d. If the Sharks suit up seven defensemen for the next game and one of them is Rob Davison, Kariya better have his head on a swivel, or he’ll be helped from the ice, just like Cheechoo.

Interestingly, the solution won’t be a fight, which would’ve been the answer in the regular season. Teams are reluctant to risk an instigator penalty in the playoffs, where every power play is crucial. Instead, they’ll lie in wait for a chance to blow up Kariya or maybe Legwand against the boards or with their heads down in open ice. Of course, you’ll have to dig around your cable company or satellite provider to find Versus network, but Friday’s game should be worth it.