Good Draft?

If you object to the NFL holding a draft right now, you won’t get an argument from me.  If you object to the NFL trying to frame that draft as a way to help the economy and beat this virus when they have taken almost $5-billion in public money to build stadiums, you will get a standing ovation from me.  But let’s face it, we don’t matter, and I’m sure ESPN played a big part in the decision to hold the draft.

I didn’t watch, and I am getting settled with the Giants’ picks, so here is my thinking about all that happened for the team I hope to root on in some better future (but probably from the comfort of my couch)

I’ve said it before, but it is worth repeating.  Draft grades are stupid and all you can do when you evaluate a draft is decide if they have tried to address their biggest holes.  I think the Giants did that.  Let’s review what they needed to do in order.

1- Improve the offensive line

2- Improve the defense- outside of the defensive line

3- Build depth at wide receiver.

So here’s how they allocated their ten picks.

1- 3 offensive linemen

2- 3 defensive secondary players

3- 3 linebackers

4- 1 edge rushers

The only thing I can argue with is the lack of a wide receiver.  Golden Tate is old, Sterling Shepherd is concussion prone, and the only depth behind them is Slayton.  This was considered a great draft for wide receivers, so not getting any is a demerit.  But, they clearly addressed the two biggest needs,  They have three linemen in their top five picks so they tried to address that hole. Every other player they drafted was for the  back 7/8 of their defense (depending on the set) so they met that need. I can’t argue with the individual picks because I’m not informed enough to do so.  The Giants addressed their two biggest needs and that’s a win in my book.

Madness-Updated

UNC and Duke don’t agree on much, but both schools are going to teach classes over the internet instead of in person. BC, UVA, Syracuse, and Miami are going to as well. That’s six schools in the ACC that are telling students to go home, yet the ACC is forcing its student athletes to play basketball games.

It’s not just the ACC. Apart from the Ivy League, which cancelled its tournament earlier this week, all the conferences are going ahead with their championships. March Madness is going to be played, just without fans. Meanwhile a second member of the Utah Jazz just tested positive

College players live in dorms and interact with a lot of other students.  Maybe one of them has it, maybe they don’t, but why take the risk?  If you are sending the regular students home, you should send the athletes home too  Don’t play these games later today, tomorrow, or next week.

Update- Sanity reigned as almost every conference cancelled its tournament except for the Big East which inexplicably played a half of a game before cancelling everything. The NHL just suspended its season and MLB will reportedly follow later today.

 

The Rebuild is Done

The Rangers are worse tonight than they were this morning, but the takeaway from the NHL trade deadline is that the rebuilding part of this makeover is over. It’s always a delicate process to decide when to add and when to subtract, but the Rangers are clearly done subtracting. Extending the contract of Chris Kreider for seven years shows you that.

The Rangers could have traded him and gotten back a draft pick and a prospect, but they extended him because his value to the team goes far beyond what he does on the ice. As they’ve shed veteran players the past two years, Kreider has emerged as the soul of the club and he will probably get the “C” sewn onto his jersey when the Rangers return home Sunday.

So how are they worse after keeping such a key piece?  Part of it is bad luck and part of it is strategy. The bad luck is that their rookie sensation goalie got hurt in a car accident last night. Shesterkin is going to be out at least a few weeks, if not the rest of the year, which is a huge blow when you consider he is 9-1 with a .940 save percentage since entering the league. In addition, they traded Brady Skeji, a defenseman they clearly overpaid, but still at least a second-pair defenseman, for Carolina’s first round pick. That’s a great trade in my opinion for the future because it allows them the cap space to extend Tony DeAngelo when he becomes a restricted free agent this offseason and the Rangers are now freed from the four years remaining on Skeji Also, the Rangers are loaded with defenseman prospects so this shouldn’t hurt down the stretch.

And it helps them get to the draft lottery which really should be this year’s goal. A playoff appearance is always great, but the Rangers had plenty of those over the last fifteen years. Expectations are going up next year, I think this squad will be ready.

A Little Anniversary Magic

Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of the Miracle on Ice, the U.S. beating the Soviet Union 4-3 in one of the most improbable upsets in sports history. Last night we had a fitting hockey tribute when a 42-year old kidney transplant survivor and Zamboni driver earned one of the most unlikely wins in NHL history.

Ayers was the “emergency goalie” a figure each home team in the league has to have ready in case either team loses their two active goalies. And that exactly what happened to Carolina in the second period when their backup goalie got into a collision and had to leave the game just like their starting goalie had to in the first period.

In came Ayers, wearing a Maple Leafs t-shirt under his Carolina pads and promptly surrendering two goals.  But he stabilized, made eight saves and became the oldest person to win his NHL “debut”.  A pretty amazing story

 

 

A New Record?

Look at the current title winners of the four major sports leagues and I think you might have a record for the four longest-suffering fanbases celebrating those titles. Last night the Chiefs won their first title in 50 years. Last fall the Nationals/Expos won their first title in their 50 years of existence. Last June the Raptors (24 years) and Blues (52 years) also won their first titles. Add it all up and you have 176 years of misery coming to an end. Could that be a record? 2016-17 came close thanks to the Cubs (108 years) and Eagles (57 years) but didn’t make it thanks to Golden State repeating and Pittsburgh winning another cup after seven years of waiting. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of another year that came close.

Looking at current droughts, we could shatter the 176 years with a quartet of Arizona Cardinals (72 years) Cleveland Indians (71 years) Sacramento Kings (68 years) and Toronto Maple Leafs (52 years) but that might bring on the zombie apocalypse.

Heck of an Ending

If the Super Bowl had played out like it looked it would with about twelve minutes to play, I think we would have relegated it to the dustbin of ho-hum Super Bowls. There wasn’t much that great that happened in the first three-plus quarters and while the 49rs would have certainly deserved their title, I think we all would have felt a bit letdown that these two clubs gave us such a mediocre game.

Instead we got a great ending as the Chiefs made then plays they had to and turned a 20-10 deficit into a 31-20 win. They have the youngest player to ever win both the regular season MVP and the Super Bowl MVP, and when you consider the deficits they overcame this postseason, this looks like a team setting up for a sustained run of excellence.

But as soon as I type that, I recall that KC went to three of the first four Super Bowls and then waited 50 years to return. Let’s see how the offseason shakes out before we make another prediction.

Super Sunday

This is a really interesting game. You have two teams where the narratives are not exactly in line with the facts. The 49rs, are perceived as a defensive juggernaut, but Kansas City actually gave up fewer points. And while KC is considered the dominant offense, San Fran actually scored more points than they did. Put it all together and the 49rs are a 1 or 1.5-point underdog heading into the game.

Before the New Year, I picked a KC Super Bowl win over the 49rs, so I’m not deviating from that now. It’s been 50 years in the making, but they are champs again in KC.

Eli Retires

Eli Manning will officially retire Friday at a press conference.

I’m not surprised as he has won two titles and earned the most money to date of any NFL player.  The only question that remains is if he makes the Hall of Fame, and unless he found a team that could win a Super Bowl next year, and wanted him to start, I don’t think he could improve on the case his career has already made, and he probably would have hurt it.  Joe Namath is in the Hall of Fame and I think Eli should be too.  He’s one of five players to win multiple Super Bowl MVP’s- Tom Brady, obviously not yet eligible, is the only one besides Eli not in the Hall of Fame.

I’m not sure, Giants fans ever really got Eli.  He did his job, week after week, and did it well.  He made over 200-straight career starts, which looks even better when you consider the fact that Daniel Jones couldn’t make even ten-straight. When the pressure was on, he delivered.  He is the best QB this franchise ever produced, and outside of LT, probably it’s greatest player.

Yes, he wasn’t as good as his brother, but how many QBs were?  (I would say Peyton is in a class with Brady, Montana, Unitas, and Marino) For 16 seasons the Giants had an answer for the toughest job in sports and Eli handled it with class and humility.  The Giants and New York will really miss him.

 

Conference Time

A few weeks ago, I picked a KC-49rs Super Bowl, so the only question is how much I think each of them will win by this weekend. KC-7 over Tennessee is an easy pick for me. I’m less confident in laying 7-1/2 with the 49rs, but they did destroy Green Bay already this season, so I’m going with it. Give me the two favorites and let’s get to Super Sunday.

Take 2

i went 0-4 ATS last week, dropping a tough game in OT, never giving the Titans a chance, losing another tough one in OT, and then seeing the Eagles lose their QB in the first quarter. Them’s the breaks as they say. Hoping to do better this week, I’m picking one upset and three favorites.

Vikings +7 over SAN FRAN- The Vikings showed me something last week and this is the first ever playoff game Jimmy G and most of his teammates. I think the 49rs likely win, but I don’t think by much.

RAVENS-9.5 over Titans- The Titans will run, run, and run again, but I don’t think they have an answer for Lamar Jackson.

CHIEFS-9.5 over Texans- I think the Chefs are going all the way.

PACKERS-4 over Seattle- This spread seems way to low for a playoff game at Lambeau after two weeks off.