Oh Joe

April 3, 2008

And it begins…I am a very big Yankees fan. This offseason it was tough to watch them cut ties with Joe Torre, but I knew that it was time for our team to head in a different direction. Torre helped us win 4 World Series titles and brought the Yankees back to the forefront of baseball. There is no doubt that he leaves some pretty big shoes to be filled and that Joe Girardi will have some issues with this. But come on, this is expected and after watching 2, yes 2 Yankees games, I’m already fed up with the questioning of everything.

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While watching the game tonight on the good old YES Network, good old Micahel Kay began what I will be dreading all season. After Girardi pulled Mike Mussina in the 6th inning with 2 outs, LaTroy Hawkins got the last out of the inning. As they came back from commercial break, Kay of course had to say, “Well Girardi pulled the right strings on that one.” Come on now. it’s the second game of the season and we are already judging his decisions. Is Kay going to follow him everywhere, even out to eat… “He went with the chicken, but he should have gone with the steak.” Just leave Joe alone and let him do his job!

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The Race for Eighth

April 2, 2008

With most of the teams having less than 10 games left on their NBA schedules, the race for the final playoff spot in each conference is heating up. In the East, the Atlanta Hawks, Indiana Pacers and New Jersey Nets are jockeying for the chance to be swept by the Boston Celtics. In the West, the Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, and Denver Nuggets are battling for the seventh and eighth spots. So, who is going to take the playoff spots? Well, as you can see by many of my NCAA predictions and my prediction that the Rockets would fall off after Yao’s injury, I’m no Jimmy the Greek. But, what the hell, here we go, here is what probably won’t happen.

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East- Atlanta will win that coveted prize to face the Celtics. I am not going on too much of a limb here as the Hawks hold a three game lead over both the Pacers and Nets. The Hawks are a young squad that is led by a veteran point guard in Mike Bibby. I hope I’m not putting the “Kiss of Death” on the Hawks by picking them, but they should have no problems in the East.

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West- And the winners are…. Golden State and Denver. These two teams play some of the most exciting basketball in the NBA. I feel that Golden State will turn up their game as they head down the stretch. In Denver’s case, I feel that AI and ‘Melo will not be denied a chance to play in the postseason. They’ll find a way top make plays and pick up some big wins down the stretch. Sorry Dallas, just like your choke job in last year’s playoffs, you will struggle down the stretch and find ways to lose games.

Now that you have read the wrong predictions, check out the rest of the games for the season, so you can see how wrong I am.

Dear Digger Phelps and Jay Bilas,

I am writing this letter to apologize to you for my post from two weeks ago. In that post, I asked both men to take a chance and pick someone other than a No. 1 seed to make it out of each region. I made this request on the knowledge that never before had all four No. 1 seeds advanced to the Final Four. Well, in retrospect, maybe these two men were taking a chance on picking all No. 1 seeds consdiering it has never happened. So, congratulations to Mr. Phelps and Mr. Bilas as you guys amde the right selections and I didn’t. This is the reason that you guys are on television and why I am sitting on my futon writing this apology post.

Sincerely,

Daniel J. Baker

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Today marks the end of the longest three day stretch of the year. For three long days, sports fanatics around the country have had to wait for March Madness to make its return to their lives. Well, tomorrow, the Madness resumes. So before you grab a cold beverage, something to eat and take a seat on the couch, here are a few things to know about the tournament.

East: No.1 North Carolina vs. No. 4 Washington St.  No.2 Tennessee vs. No.3 Louisville

Midwest: No.1 Kansas vs. No. 12 Villanova  No.3 Wisconsin vs. No.10 Davidson

South: No.1 Memphis vs. No.5 Michigan St.  No.2 Texas vs. No.3 Stanford

West: No.1 UCLA vs. No.12 Western Kentucky  No.3 Xavier vs. No.7 West Virginia

Possible Upsets: Although I think Xavier is too good for West Virginia, I belive that the Mountaineers have the best chance to pull off an upset in the Sweet 16. If Joe Alexander has a big game, the X-Men might be going home early. In the Elite 8, watch out for Wisconsin to knock off the Kansas Jayhawks. If the Badgers can slow it down and make soem big shots, they will be heading to San Antonio.

Game to See- Tennessee vs. Louisville. Both teams like to play an uptempo style of basketball and have a ton of athletes. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of both of these teams puts up 90 points.

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Heading to San Antonio: These are the four teams that will be dancing the night away in San Antonio next Saturday. North Carolina, UCLA, Texas, and Wisconsin

Hope for the Knicks??

March 26, 2008

It isn’t a miracle. It probably won’t turn the Knicks into a contender or even a winner overnight. However, the report that long time Indiana Pacers CEO Donnie Walsh will sign with the Knicks at the end of the season is a sign that the organization may finally be going in the right direction.

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 Walsh has spent 24 years with the Pacers and has always been considered one of the best CEO/Presidents in the NBA. Hopefully, he can bring some of his good sense to a team that has no sense.

Now don’t get me wrong, the Knicks have a long way to go until they can become a contender again. The next move we need to make is to get rid of good old Isiah Thomas. He has only been detrimental to one of the proudest franchises in sports. If Walsh can somehow figure out a way to get the Knicks out of salary-cap hell and make a few good draft picks, the future may look a little brighter for the Knicks.

Weekend 1: Recap

March 24, 2008

Not to pat myself on my back too hard, but I do believe last Tuesday I wrote in this very blog that West Virginia would beat Duke in Round 2. Low and behold, the Mountaineers pulled off the upset and sent Coach K and the Dukies home before the Sweet 16. The Mountaineers will probably not have enough to get by Xavier in the Sweet 16, but their upset over Duke has made me forever grateful to West Virginia.

Other highlights from this weekend included all the games played in Tampa. On Friday, all 4 lower seeds one for the first time at one regional site in the history of the NCAA Tournament. No. 12 Villanova, No. 12 Western Kentucky, No. 13 Siena, and No. 13 San Diego were all able to defy the odds and knock off their opponents.

America, we have a star blossoming right before us as the Big Dance heads into the 2nd weekend. Davidson’s Stephen Curry helped lead the Wildcats to an upset over No. 7 Gonzaga by scoring 40 points and then scored 30 points in their upset over No. 2 Georgetown. Curry, who might be the next Reggie Miller because of his slender build and an uncanny ability to knock down the 3, will look to keep Davidson’s run alive when they take on Wisconsin next weekend.

College vs. NBA

March 20, 2008

It’s an argument I have had with many people, many times. A lot of the time I get too fired up and overly passionate and get way too into the argument. But in the end, I’m always right and the person sees that I’m right. (well not really everytime, actually not even half the time, but whatever) I have always been a firm believer that NCAA basketball is a better product than the NBA. Twice in public speaking classes, I have given a persuasive speech in favor of college basketball. And believe me, I do love college basketball very much still. However, I think the NBA is making a serious comeback to the good old days of #23, MJ, your airness, whatever you would like to call him.

With the Big Dance ready to get underway tomorrow, I figured it would be a good time to revisit this topic. This season the NBA is has given us some great storylines, along with some great basketball. We have seen the resurgence of one of the all-time great teams in the Boston Celtics as they have gone from celler-dwellers to the cream of the crop. The Houston Rockets just finished off winning 22 straight games en route to taking the top spot in the West. More big names have been traded than in any season before this and finally, we are seeing two superstars, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant come from behind the shadows of the late great MJ.

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I am totally looking forward to the start March Madness tomorrow, but for the first time in a long time, I am also looking forward to the NBA playoffs.

No Chalk For Me

March 19, 2008

It’s funny how every year college basketball analysts talk about how there are many teams that can make the Final Four, but do they ever go out on a limb? The answer would be…. No. Each year they go with the chalk. I watched Digger Phelps and Jay Bilas pick all 4 No. 1 seeds to make it to the Final Four. Do you know how many times that has happened… ZERO, ZILCH, NEVER. And guess what, it will probably never happen. I know you are getting paid the big bucks to analyze the games, but, please take a chance on maybe a No. 2 seed. With that being said, here are some of my tournament predictions.

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Best First Round Game- Gonzaga vs. Davidson If you get a chance to check this one out please do. In this one you have the original mid-major in Gonzaga versus the up and coming mid-major in Davidson. Davidson is also riding a 23 game winning streak. I like the Wildcats to knock off Gonzaga in a close one.

Upset that no one is picking- West Virginia over Duke in Round 2. Joe Alexander won two games for the Mountaineers by himself in the Big East Tournament. The Blue Devils don’t have anyone that can guard him. Look for Alexander to have a big game and send the Dukies home early.

Final Four- I refuse to pick all No. 1 seeds, so here it goes. No.1 North Carolina vs. No. 3 Wisconsin and No.4 Pittsburgh vs. No.1 UCLA

Champion- After making their third straight Final Four appearance, the Bruins finally take home the championship as Kevin Love outbattles Tyler Hansbrough.

 Let the games begin.

What A Sunday

March 17, 2008

Very rarely, do you get a few hour span of great sports in one afternoon. On Sunday, if you were being a couch potato like myself and you are a sports fan, you probably caught at least 1 of the 3 great sports accomplishments of the weekend.

 It all started with the Georgia Bulldogs capping off their amazing run through the SEC tournament. Georgia was a mere 13-16 and 4-12 in the SEC which gave them one of the lower seeds for the tournament. In there first round game, they knocked off Ole Miss 97-95 in overtime. Their second round game was scheduled for Friday night but because of a tornado that tore through downtown Atlanta, the game was moved to Saturday afternoon and the Bulldogs would have to play a doubleheader that day. In the first game, Georgia knocked off Kentucky 60-56 in overtime and then later that night upset Mississippi St. 64-60. Playing their 3rd game in 30 hours, Georgia managed to knock off Arkansas 66-57 in the championship game and earn a spot in the Big Dance. This is one of the most remarkable feats I have ever witnessed.

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After watching the end of the Georgia game, I quickly switched over to NBC to catch the end of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. After falling behind by 7 strokes on Saturday, Tiger Woods had roared back and had the chance to sink the winning putt on 18. Tiger was staring at a 25 foot with the fact in his mind that he hadn’t made anything outside of 18 feet all weekend. But in his usual Tiger style, Woods sank the putt and secured his fifth straight tournament win.

If this wasn’t enough streaks and accomplishment, I once again quickly switched over to ABC to catch the end of the Rockets-Lakers game. The Rockets had won 21 straight games heading into their match-up with the Lake Show. With the game still up in the air, the Rockets scored on four straight possessions to put the game out of reach and secured their 22nd straight win which is the second longest in NBA history.

 All I can say… is what a Sunday!

SOS… Same Old Spurs

March 5, 2008

I remember a month ago when every sports reporters around the country was writing off the San Antonio Spurs. With the Lakers, Suns, and Mavericks making big trades to position themselves for a top spot out West, the Spurs made the quiet ones and allowed their team to get healthy. The Spurs big three, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli, have all missed time due to injury, but in the end this could be a blessing in disguise. All three have been given the chance to rest and now the Spurs are riding a 10-game winning streak and are tied for first with the Lakers out West.  The acquisitions of role palyers Kurt Thomas and Damon Stoudamire, might be the most valuable pick-ups by any team this season.

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 Now, I’ll be the first to admit, the Spurs may be the most BORING team to watch in the history of the NBA. They don’t do anything fancy and often times lull both their opponents and their fans to sleep. But, this is what makes them so great. The play solid fundamental basketball that seems to just translate into W’s. If the rest of the West doesn’t take notice of the Spurs slow resurgence back to the top of the standings, they might be lulled to sleep, and when they wake up the Spurs will be collecting their 4th NBA title in the past six seasons.