Ted Bauer puts himself on the line every weekend, watching and manipulating video for a certain sports/entertainment conglomerate to be named later. Due to his work hours and environment, he is uniquely qualified to summarize and analyze the week’s sporting activity. This will be a weekly feature, running every Monday morning. If you like this, read more of Ted’s writing at his primary crib – A Price Above Bip Roberts.
As Elvis would have said “A little less conversation, and a little more action”. Here’s the inaugural post of “What We Learned” for April 30, 2007.
What We Learned: “You Talk About a Guy…”
Without further ado, the top 10 things we learned this weekend in sports:
1) It pays to play well in big games in college
Brady Quinn, who shat the bed in games against USC (a few times), Michigan (his senior year), Ohio State, and LSU, lost roughly $17 million by sliding from a projected No. 3 – with the Browns – to No. 22 – also with the Browns. That crafty Phil Savage. Meanwhile, JaMarcus Russell, who beat Quinn in that Sugar Bowl game and also did the whole “4th and 10 vs. ASU” thing right after Katrina, scored a massive payday by going to the NFL’s most dysfunctional family to haze Andrew Walter.
2) Danny Ainge might be more rational than George Steinbrenner
For the 18,716th time in the last 11 years, word emerged from the Bronx Zoo that Steinbrenner might ax Torre this weekend. The Yankees went out and beat their archrivals on Saturday afternoon, behind surprisingly effective pitching from the starter (Igawa) and middle relivers (Bruney and Farnsworth), as well as the first save of the year from Mariano. Then, they lost Sunday; they’ve dropped 5 of 6 to the Red Sox this year. If Torre is canned, what’s the point, really? It bears resemblance to a portion of the whole Doc Rivers argument: even if you bring in Girardi, the defending Manager of the Year, who is he working with? Also, the Yankees were bad at the beginning of 2005, and they made the playoffs that year. It’s one thing to keep people on their toes wanting excellence, but it’s another to create an atmosphere where the 10th winningest manager of all-time might get booted simply because Chase Wright can’t keep his heater out of the zone.
3) The Patriots are convinced they know what they’re doing
In the first round of the Draft, they selected Brandon Merriweather from Miami, probably the most notable example this side of Eric Wright of the base issue of “prospects with bad character.” Then, they go out and get explosive wide receiver / head case Randy “10 Grand Ain’t Shit to me; Next Time I might shake my dick” Moss, who once mooned the fans at arguably the closest place football has to a church in America. Scott Pioli. I figure, does it because he’s sure the Patriots can turn any player into a team-first cardboard cutout of their sketchy past, smiling like some guy advertising an electronics sale.
4) It might be one of those wacky situations for the Mets
It seems like every year, one main contender in some division can’t beat the most bottom-feeding, scum-sucking team in said division, and that costs them dearly. Two years ago, for the Indians, ’twas the Royals. Right now for the Mets, it appears to be the Nationals, who beat them Friday night, took ’em to 12 innings Saturday night, and held them to 1 run (granted, the Mets won) on Sunday. The Nats had done some damage in their previous series with the Metropolitans, too. Jim Bowden used to be Omar Minaya’s boss; now he’s just owning him.
5) Steve Nash might be the greatest player in the history of the world
Well, not really; there’s a little matter of a guy who wore 23. But check out these compliments that Mike Breen rattled off about Nash on Sunday – Pat Riley calls him, apparently, “the most fundamentally sound basketball player maybe in history” ; Magic Johnson calls him “a guy I love to watch” ; Phil Jackson and Doc Rivers say he’s “hands down the best point guard in the NBA, maybe the last 10 years of the NBA.” The Suns are up 3-1, by the way. I bet the series still goes 7. Kobe’s going for 70 in Game 5.
6) That monkey hasn’t left T-Mac’s side just yet
After a convincing 2-0 series lead, the Rockets went to Mormon Land and dropped two games. In Game 3, T-Mac and Yao went off, but the rest of the squad had a combined four points. In Game 4, T-Mac had a mere 18, Yao a mere 20, and Houston coughed up the rock 16 times. Utah basically needs to win one game in Texas – and let’s be real here, they led Games 1 and 2 for sizable portions – and T-Mac is now 0-6 in the first round.
7) It was all about this, always
The NBA Playoffs are all about reunions of former comrades – look at the whole Suns/Mavericks subplots of the last few years (Nash/Dirk), or even Spurs/Suns (half the Spurs roster played at least 1 game for the Suns, and vice versa), and Dallas/Golden State (Nellie/Avery). Heck, even Kobe followed D’Antoni around in Italy, so that’s kinda sorta a reunion. As such, everyone should have known that Detroit vs. Chicago – “The Battle for Big Ben’s Soul” – was coming down the pike. Although it won’t match up in drama and overall quality with a potential San Antonio vs. Phoenix second rounder out West, it’ll be the de facto Eastern Conference Finals (sorry, TNT – although maybe your real Eastern Finals will involve King James, and that’d be cool, right?). Detroit and Chicago is going 7, easy, and will be as intense, if not more so, than a Ozzie Guillen vs. Jim Leyland stare down.
8) Don’t count on previous success
Like the ’03 NFL season, when the Bucs (7-9) and Raiders (4-12) both missed the playoffs after competing in the Super Bowl, here we go now with the ’07 NBA season. The Heat? Done, looking like abject fools getting swept by a Bulls team that hadn’t won a playoff series since Byron Russell forgot to tie his shoes. The Mavericks? Down 2-1 (as of Sunday prior to their game) and looking like, well, abject fools in not being able to play in front of the “raucous” (thank you, Mike Breen) crowd in NorCal. If both get bounced, it would be the first time since 1957 that two Finals teams lost in the opening series the next year.
9) For one day at least, Jamie Mottram isn’t Mr. Irrelevant
Rather, it’s Ramzee Robinson from the University of Alabama (Roll Tide!), who became Mr. Irrelevant for ’07, going No. 255 to the Lions (I thought they would take Reggie Ball there, to make Calvin feel better) as a “compensatory selection” (is that a compensation for Millen as a whole?). He’s a 5-9 DB; the only thing his NFL.Com page says is “plays bigger than his height.” Ha. However, it might be valid. As a frosh, he had four tackles against Auburn; that’s a pretty big game for a 5-9 dude to be having four tackles in. He also was defensive captain for the LSU game his senior year. We believe in Ramzee. He might be the new Dre Bly over there.
10) Sometimes, the games aren’t even the biggest thing
R.I.P. Josh Hancock. You were, apparently, representative in many ways of the midwestern ethos of your city.