Time Out for Sports Talk – A Blizzard of Sports Thoughts
Todd: Had enough snow yet? Don't know about the three of you who regularly read this blog, but I am officially SICK AND TIRED of winter! See, I typed it in all caps just to make my point so you know I'm serious.
Anyway, it appears Mike has finally broken his way out of his Sochi bathroom stall and has returned to join me in this week’s post, which features another assortment of quick-hitting sports opines.
I know SB XLVIII is now well in the rear-view mirror, but some final thoughts should Mike want to add any postgame thoughts. One thing I did not point out in my recap was how Seattle’s secondary set the tone early and often by getting physical with Denver’s receivers whenever they had the opportunity. It immediately reminded me of Ty Law, Lawyer Milloy and the rest of the Patriots pounding the 2001 St. Louis Rams receivers into submission for a large part of SB XXXVI. Indeed, defense can and does win championships.
Following up on a point Mike made in his SB preview, Pete Carroll played a large part in putting these Seahawks together. He also reminded us that even as the league continues to add rules which benefit the offense, a defense can still play aggressively and dominate a game. Most importantly, when Carroll got the opportunity to return to the NFL (much like a certain Hall of Fame-bound hooded wonder around these parts did), he paired up with a supportive owner looking to build a winner and seized the moment.
Although we rarely discuss serious sports topics, I would like to say that if I was ever an NFL head coach, give me a team of Michael Sams over a team of Richie Icognitos any day of the week and especially on Sunday. The comportment of these two men and how they’ve been viewed in the public eye over the past couple of weeks could not be any further apart on the sports spectrum. Assuming their abilities on an NFL field are fairly equal, here’s hoping Sam gets a chance to show his talents long before Icognito does again.
Speaking of athletes who earn high marks in my book, kudos to Ryan Dempster. The Red Sox pitcher has decided not to pitch in 2014 (and perhaps beyond) and as a result walks away from over $13 million. The 38-year old Dempster—who battled through various injuries last season—probably could have pitched a couple spring training games, then spent most of the year on the DL while getting paid and most of us wouldn’t have been the wiser.
Instead, if Dempster does decide he is done for good, there isn’t a much better way for him to go out than closing out a World Series game and winning his first championship. However, if there’s only one pitch that forever endears him to Red Sox Nation it was the fastball he threw last August that drilled Alex Rodriguez in the back and earned Dempster a five-game suspension. It was a well-earned punishment as far as Sox fans are concerned.
In other spring training developments, I say let the kids play! They will surely go through some growing pains, but coming off a duck boat parade I have no problem with the Sox fielding a lineup that includes Xander Bogaerts at shortstop, Will Middlebrooks at third base and Jackie Bradley Jr. in center field. I say let Stephen Drew and Scott Beelzeboras twist in the wind, although I think Drew will eventually sign with the Pinstripes after the Derek Jeter Farewell Tour is forced to take a DL break.
Moving from the warm temperatures of Florida to the almost equally warm temps across the globe in Sochi, I have really struggled getting into these Winter Olympics (and I used to be quite the Olympics junkie back in the day). That was until the USA-Russia men’s hockey game got my attention.
While last weekend’s showdown can’t hold a candle to the 1980 Miracle on Ice, it was still an intensely riveting game between two teams featuring some of the world’s best players. Great action up and down the ice, a controversial non-goal call against Russia and some brilliant strategy by Team USA Coach Dan Bylsma in selecting a shootout specialist for his squad made this game entertaining from beginning to end, and turned T.J. Oshie into a household name.
Unfortunately, a potential rematch of these two rivals in the gold medal game will not come to fruition, as Team Russia was Finnished earlier today (Feb. 19). I can’t imagine that Vladimir Putin is taking the defeat well.
Mike: I. Am. So. Sick. Of. Winter.
Enough already with the snow. I am so ready for the spring! And it will get better next week when the Red Sox start playing exhibition games from Florida. That to me is always the best sign that the endless piles of snow and ice are eventually going to melt.
While I'm on the topic of the Red Sox, I disagree with Todd that Stephen Drew will sign with New York. I actually think that before long, he'll swallow his pride and resign with the Red Sox. Face it, the Sox are the only team that can sign him without losing a draft pick, and from the total lack of activity by other teams on offering him a contract makes me think that there is no real market out there for him.
Having said that, I'm not 100% sure that bringing Drew back is the best idea for the team. While I disagree with Todd about if he will be signed, I completely agree with why it isn't the best idea to bring him back. Putting Drew back in the lineup creates a log jam and will force one talented young player to the bench. Like Todd said, put Xander Bogaerts at shortstop and Will Middlebrooks at third base and let the future begin now. Sure, they might take a step back, but they are the future of the team, not Drew, and the future should begin now.
Now getting to the Olympics, unlike Todd, I have been completely sucked in. I've been watching it every night (though I do pick up a book during figure skating, sorry, just not a fan).
I find myself watching (and caring about) sports that I only watch when the Olympics are on. For example, I would never watch the X Games--just don't care enough about them, but put snowboarding in the Olympics, and I can't stop watching it.
What these athletes do on the ice and the snow just amazes me, and they all do it with so much obvious joy, that it is simply fun to watch.
Now on to hockey. And in the interest of full disclosure, I am writing this with the USA hockey semifinal in a small window on my second monitor on my desk. And keeping tabs on the surprisingly close Canada-Latvia game as well.
And I was up early last Saturday to watch the USA-Russia game, and that was one of the most fun games that I have watched in a long time. I must admit I said to my wife during the game that I missed the old days of the Soviet Union, when there was a natural "enemy" in the Olympics, it was still satisfying to see the Americans take out the Russians on their home ice.
The shootout was an amazing one to watch as Oshie kept taking shot after shot, and finally breaking through for the win. To me, it was Olympic hockey at its best.
I'm looking forward to seeing the US take on the Canadians. Should be a heck of a game!
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