Saturday, January 10, 2009

Random Thoughts from a Random Day

*The poll to the right of this column asks "what is the biggest reason that OSU lost the Fiesta Bowl?" Of the six options, none of them have anything to do with Texas being very good, Colt Mccoy and a pair of thousand yard receivers cutting up the Buckeye defense like they did to everyone this year, or the Texas coordinators mixing up their game plan just enough to keep the Buckeyes slightly off balance. While I agree that there were many things OSU could have done better (and by many I mean maaaaaany), credit is due to the Longhorn squad, so let us give it to them.

*This Texas team has been lauded by some as being the best in the land. National Championship quality. If football games were 58 minutes long, the Buckeyes would have beat them, no question. I know I know there is a reason they are 60, great teams come from behind to win big games (a la Brett Favre... or maybe that was because he put himself in a situation to come from behind so many times...), and so on and so on. But Ohio State played them much much better than anyone else this season. Better than theoretical national runner-up Oklahoma. There are going to many holes to fill for next season, but Tressel's recruiting classes are top notch. One of the differences I see in the way OSU recruits compared to USC is the number of "5 Star" players. OSU seems to get 3 and 4 star guys and turn them into NFL prospects, college stars, etc, while sprinkling in a Terrelle Pryor, Beanie Wells, or Ted Ginn five star type (AJ Hawk was only a 3 star guy), while USC rakes in the 4 and 5 stars and throws them out there. I am not saying either is wrong or right, I am just saying it's a little bit different in my eyes. And I am also saying, I am very excited for next season.

*With a history of getting beaten like a red headed step child (popular insult circa 1996), Alex Boone's name was not called all that much for anything negative, which I can remember at least. If you were to put together a survey of why OSU lost the previous two national championship games, one of the choices undoubtedly would have been "Alex Boone shrinks from big games like the Indians shrink from signing big name free agents." But on the night of the Fiesta Bowl Boone did not openly try to sabotage the Buckeyes like he has in the past. Perhaps that has something to do with Pryor being able to move around, unlike an anchor-footed Todd Boeckman, or a weighed-down-by-the-banquet-circuit Troy Smith... but the world may never know.

*I am a little surprised about the outcome of the "nAtional cHampionship gAme" and I will write it like that just once to express my displeasure about the fraud that this game has become. However, Oklahoma kept it much closer than I thought they would. Injuries + coming from an inferior conference + Bob Stoops + no Superman = 41-14 type drubbing from Urban Meyer's squad in my opinion. Florida -4 seemed like the lock of the century. Not the NY Giants +400 Super Bowl money line in which case it was a 'hey lets throw some cash on them because it's a good value bet.' No this seemed like an enormous sucker's bet. And it almost turned out that way. Luckily, for my bank account's sake, Tebow really is the man.

*Mangenius, Mangina, Ball Boy, Coffee Boy, Caucasian Crennel, Whistle Blower... All the various nicknames for the new Browns head coach. While this hiring has been covered by anyone and everyone with ties to Cleveland Sports, please allow me a short take on this from the perspective of living 20 minutes from where Mangini last worked, the decrepit waste land known as the Meadowlands. There is no way to properly evaluate his time as an NFL head coach. He took over a 4 win team in 2005 and led them to a bitter first round exit of the 2006 playoffs to the bitter rival NE Patriots. In 2007 he didn't have a healthy quarterback, and in 2008 he was held hostage by Brett Favre. There are potential flaws about Mangini, most notably his lust for the 3-4 defense, which probably scares every Browns fan to the high heavens, but for better or worse he has come through adversity already. That means that when the sh*t hits the fan here, and it inevitably will as the Browns hired him with NO GM IN PLACE(another thousand word essay all together), hopefully he won't have the let's go for a field goal down by 3 touchdowns with under ten minutes remaining deer in headlights look on his face.

*Bart Scott was on PTI the other day and was asked about Albert Haynesworth shooting off at the mouth. Scott brushed it off saying he has Haloti Ngata on his side and therefore he is not scared of anyone. Do you think if you asked D'Qwell Jackson that same question he would have the same answer regarding Kam Wimbley? It was nice trading down to make the Ngata Wimbley exchange.

*From the time it was clear that Carl Pavano was healthy at the end of last season, and knowing that the Yankees would not sign him, I was secretly hoping the Indians would give him a shot. The Yankees gave him a 40million dollar contract that he certainly did not earn. But they also gave Jaret Wright a 25million dollar contract that he certainly did not earn. And we can go on all day about the Yankees giving out unearned money, but the fact is that Pavano had a good season, and a little bit of potential working for him. He ran into an unfortunate string of events that you can't really make up. He had baseball related injuries. He had non-baseball related injuries. He lied about it. He played in New York, which made everything worse. And he was shunned by the evil empire. Part of me wants him to succeed for the sole reason of sticking it to my Yankee loving friends out here. The contract that the Indians gave him is great. Realistically, he is only really blocking David Huff at this point from the rotation. He has a World Series ring. And if he has any marbles, he should have an enormous chip on his shoulder.

*One of the few things that the Captain could not erase from my New Year's memories was the Indians trading for Mark Derosa. Another solid move in my opinion, as he routinely made it on Baseball Tonight for coming through in clutch situations. May not put up gaudy numbers, but I do believe CSP (clutch situation performance) is immeasurable statistically. There is a school of thought that there is no such thing as CSP, and that statistics always revert to the mean, no matter what. I can tell you that as a former professional baseball players, offspring of a psychologist and psychiatric social worker, and reader of long statistical studies, that there are definitely players who have an affinity for coming through in clutch situations. What defines clutch? When the game is on the line, RBI situations, or starting a rally are a few of the examples, but everyones definition of that word varies. I believe, though, through experience, that there are clutch players and there are non-clutch players. And having a guy like Derosa in the lineup is an upgrade over having Andy Marte.

*The Cavs are great. Mike Brown is great. Mo Williams is great. Wallace and Varajeo are great. Lebron singing Time After Time is great. Lebron playing basketball is otherworldly. Lebron is 24 years old. The best player on the planet is not even close to his prime. That is fun. There are teams in the NBA that are unwatchable. Just the nature of the beast in the NBA. The Nets? Unwatchable. Bucks? Bulls? Bobcats? No chance. ESPN had Dick Vitale and the college crew doing the NBA game the other night and constantly were disgusted by the lack of rotational defense, etc. That is one of the reasons why the NBA is unwatchable, not many play passionately on defense. The Cavs certainly do. Lebron has decided that he wants to be the best defensive player on the planet. And that my friends is great.


Alvaro Espinoza said...

Great post! Keep them coming.

Biff said...

Oh sure, it's easy to poke fun at Savage for passing on an all-pro two gap tackle for a crappy "hybrid" rush end. But I guarantee you that Ozzie Newsome still cringes when he thinks about how the Browns just stole Babatunde Oshinowo right out from under him. You can take that to the bank baby!

By Land By Sea Baerga said...

babatunde... the trademark of the phil savage era...