Bit of a shoddy week around here. What can you do? I’m going to try to remedy the light content week with a real big flourish heading into the weekend. All quantity, no quality. It’s a 4-sport weekend in Philadelphia. They don’t come around too often. With the Sixers mail-in last night and the Eagles not blatantly tanking the 1st round–things have gotten off to a pretty solid start. The rundown….
Great 1st round. Thank you for not taking six hours. Back in the day, you’d turn the Draft on at noon and they’d crank out about 4 picks an hour. It was torture. Then again, you could go out and play a round of golf and come back to find you’d only missed about 1/2 a round. With the clock trimmed to 10 minutes and with teams trading up with specific players in mind, the picks came in a quick rhythm. In fact, if ESPN hadn’t been slowing things down a bit, I think they could have done 2.5 hours. Maybe next year. Observations…
1. Roger Goodell really liked ALL the draft picks. Maybe too much. There are handshakes, there are congratulatory hugs and then there’s what Goodell was doing last night. He put together a 32 game winning streak in the game “nervous,” that’s for sure. He locked onto those picks and just wouldn’t let go. After the standard jokes were made…it just became uncomfortable.
2. The Eagles traded up and took a player the fans wanted. Or at least had on the radar. A couple of years back the Eagles pulled the same thing, the fans waited for Goodell to announce Earl Thomas, but he said Brandon Graham instead. Shock and anger from the masses. Fast forward to Thomas being a total beast (the bypassed JPP as well) and Graham hardly ever seeing the field and you’ve got one nervous fan base when the Eagles’ card comes to the podium. Cox was a chalk pick, though. It’ll be tough to pin this on the front office if he doesn’t pan out, because everyone liked the guy.
3. Speaking of busts, I don’t want to be negative, but would Andrew Luck be the biggest bust ever if he doesn’t turn into a franchise quarterback? You can’t be a bust without hype and Luck is unmatched in that category. What struck me about Luck is that he’s a total goof. He fails the “face test.” But as I tweeted last night to my 15 followers, Eli has shattered the scale for the “face test,” and completely erased its validity. But still, massive face test failure for Luck who looks and sounds like an oversized Little Leaguer. I’m nervous about how he’ll survive his 1st season with 21 gaping holes around him in the locker room.
4. I always get that twinge of regret every year when my dream corner gets taken. Joe Haden to the Browns. Gut shot. Patrick Peterson to Arizona. Bitter pill. But Morris Claiborne to Dallas last night was a whole new level. The Cowboys run a draft like I would. Throw caution to the wind, trade up, and take the guy with name value. How can that go wrong? Their prize was Claiborne, who should help their secondary immensely, but won’t be able to help Tony Romo is his quest to qualify for the US Open. Interesting side-note about Claiborne, in response to his reported score of “4” on the Wonderlic (that’s quite low), he said he tanked the test on purpose, because he’s out of school and didn’t see any questions about football. Oh, Mo, we really could have had something.
5. We’ve now gone 21 straight years without a draft pick wearing jean shorts. Brett Favre is Cal Ripken and Joe D all rolled into one on this one, I think. Even Brandon Weeden, who appeared to be watching from home, threw together a look that I’d describe as “Graduate Assistant.”
After a long, luxurious wait the Flyers will face the Devils in round two. Did I say I wanted the Devils? I wanted the Devils. New Jersey slipped by Florida in game 7 to set up a familiar playoff matchup. Of course, the history with New Jersey is not as fresh as it feels. I can take myself back to the painful playoff series of the Lindros era and it feels like it happened yesterday. The truth is, it’s been a long time and about the only familiar face left is Marty Brodeur. The New Jersey teams that stepped over the Flyers on the way to the Cup don’t exist. In fact, you could argue the demons have been exorcised. In 2004 and 2010, the Flyers dismissed the Devils from the playoffs with relative ease. What I want out of this series is to send Brodeur into retirement on a sour note. I’d like to see him peppered and then pulled. The biggest obstacle facing the Flyers would appear to be their long layoff. It hasn’t kept Vegas from bumping the Flyers up to their second choice at 9:2. Flyers Kitten will probably pop up next week, but in the meantime, he wanted me to let everyone know that Still the Beat Bang. Keys and Prediction….
- Get to Brodeur Early in the Series
- Continue Power Play Dominance
- Stay out of Giroux’s Way
- Keep an Eye Out for Scott Stevens…Just in Case
- Flyers in 5.
Phillies vs. Cubs–4 Game Set in Search of a .500+ April.
The Phils closed their trip in fine fashion against Arizona. They scored 20 runs in the series and by Sunday, their run production was being taken a bit more seriously. They’ve got a golden opportunity to keep things going against Chicago. The Cubs are struggling in the early going, and have given up nearly 5 runs a game, which a ton in the modern NL.
Stat of the Day in an Attempt to Gain Perspective: Washington Nationals 69 Runs scored (14-5 record). Philadelphia Phillies 63 Runs scored (9-10 record).
I think there might be a bit of a misconception out there about how well the Nats are playing. As you can see, they’ve scored a grand total of 6 more runs than the Phillies this season. Or, .3 more runs a game. That surplus has added up to five more wins. So even though we’re apoplectic about the Phillies offense, the Nationals offense is a bit dreadful in its own right. They’re being bolstered by a preposterous 2.2o Team ERA, which is not sustainable. Especially when you realize they’ve played their 1st 19 games against Chicago, Cincy, SD, Houston and New York who are a combined 20 games under .500. You could say much of the same about the Phillies in the early going, but that’s the point. Washington has pitched a little better and gotten a bit more timely production. So, just for the record, the Phillies aren’t chasing down some indomitable beast. The Nats are a team with good pitching and a favorable early schedule. They can easily be run down over the next 143 games.
So, anyway, important for the Phils to win this series against Chicago to keep momentum going for the big Atlanta/WSH trip that kicks off May.
Yesterday I heard the NFL is getting pretty close to putting the Pro Bowl to bed. A mercy killing. So appropriate. I had hoped they were going to do the same thing with the NBA playoffs, but it looks like they’re going to go ahead and press on for the next 3 months. Don’t cancel your July NBA Finals parties. It’s going to happen. In a strange turn of events, and despite their best efforts, the Sixers have tumbled into the playoffs as the #8 seed in the East. Their reward is a matchup with the Chicago Bulls. The Sixers are 100:1 to win the NBA Championship. Do NOT take a little taste of that. Consider this your NBA Playoff coverage unless something really comical happens to the Heat. Go Knicks! Melo for MVP!
A Breath From Sports: What the Hell Happened To John Cusack?
Have you seen the preview for Poe, or whatever that Edgar Allen Poe atrocity is? John Cusack has become the Shannon Tweed of the half-hearted suspense stink bomb. Let’s take a road trip to Cusack’s IMDB page. Looking at the titles, it appears that Cusack saved his career once and then blew it. Peruse the following:
Teen Star Era:
- Sixteen Candles
- Better Off Dead
- Stand By Me
- One Crazy Summer
- Say Anything
Now Cusack could have just faded away there as a legend of the 80s, but he instead decided to fail as an adult actor for some time. Have you seen Grifters? It’s got career-ending potential. But Cusack hung tough. He kept shooting. That’s the only way to break a slump. It allowed him a bit of a revival.
Finally Shook the “In Your Eyes” Moment Era:
- Grosse Pointe Blank
- Pushing Tin
- Being John Malkovich
- High Fidelity
Right around this time, you’re thinking, Man–that Cusack. He’s like an uglier, more neurotic Hugh Grant. Sky is the limit. But no. It turns out that Cusack can’t REALLY carry a movie. He’s like a AAAA player in baseball. He can do weird. He can do kind of funny, but there are limitations. Instead of cultivating those limitations and showing up in only oddball roles like his sister, Cusack has insisted on being the leading man, which has sent him slaloming down the slopes of script quality. It leads to roles in moves like 1408 (about haunted hotels) and 2012 (about the world ending) and The Factory (starring no one) and now finally The Raven (I looked the name up).
The point of all this is, you can put John Cusack as the star of your movie, but it’s a little like batting Ty Wigginton cleanup.
Ok, there you go. A mega-post. A pile of unrelated junk to take you into the weekend. Be sure to tune in next Friday when we lay down an absolute stone-cold, mortal Exacta lock in the Kentucky Derby. Have a good one…