Welcome back. In case you’ve just joined us, I’ve been hitting on a few sports topics that came to the forefront during my past 3 ½ week absence. I started with numbers 1 through 8, which can be found in part 1.
This is part 2.
Part 1 focused largely on what was happening in the NBA. This part is going to transition us into what I want to talk about the most. So be patient while I let loose on NFL offseason activity, some future hot spots for the upcoming NBA offseason, and some baseball stuff.
But first, I want you to see this video:
I stumbled across that on YouTube and after the dismal game 2 between Boston and Philly, I have renewed spirits. Because everything mentioned in the commercial is spot-on correct.
**Proven by last night’s game 3.
But… back to business.
#9: NFL Draft.
Surprise: Andrew Luck went #1 and RGIII went #2.
Anything important happen? Well, the Cowboys traded up to grab Mo Claiborne. So we will see who is stupider: Claiborne or Jerry Jones. And the Dolphins grabbed Ryan Tannehill–after failing to get Peyton or Matt Flynn. The Browns continued to make last year’s Julio Jones trade look worthwhile as they scooped up Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden. Oh, and one of the best Virginia Tech Hokies from recent years** is about to start playing on Sundays for the defending Super Bowl champs.
**If you have not watched David Wilson play, PLEASE click that link. Definitely watch the clip at 2:11. And then be jealous you didn’t draft him.
Another Hokie got taken in the 3rd round—Jayron Hosley joined David Wilson in NY. Nothing crazy happened until the 4th round when the Redskins drafted Kirk Cousins. WHAT? They got RGIII AND Cousins? It doesn’t make sense. But hey, welcome to Washington. Danny Coale got picked up by Dallas in round 5… looks like he could be their new slot receiver/kick returner/punter. And the Jets got RGII.
Exactly. No one really cares. All that hype… all of those mock drafts… and now that the draft is over, no one cares.
#10: The NFL Offseason Is Boring.
I don’t know why. But compared to the past few NBA offseasons and the most recent MLB one, the NFL offseason just seems so boring. The draft was the peak moment… which is like saying the best part of the show you just watched was actually the preview trailer you saw two days ago. It’s a big letdown.
I think it’s because a single player can’t really change a team in the way it happens all the time in the NBA. Think about it… it just happened.
Lebron James is one of this generation’s best players. He left Cleveland during free agency and landed in Miami. They haven’t won a title, but since that signing, the Heat are now always a frontrunner. Pencil them in for at least the Conference Finals.
But Peyton Manning is maybe the greatest QB of all time. He just got cut by the Colts and signed with the Broncos (his free agency run had a lot of the hype and twists that Lebron’s had… yet the personality clashes make a big difference–rainy day article? maybe). Denver hasn’t played a single snap with Manning yet, so it’s too early to definitively make any claims. But I bet he doesn’t make a huge impact. Because he’s only one of 22 starters.
Think about it the other way. Cleveland lost Lebron, but gained Kyrie Irving via the draft. The Colts lost Peyton, but just gained Andrew Luck. Kyrie already made the Cavs hopeful. I think they are a player or two away from being a playoff team again. But the Colts are not going to go from pathetic to playoff-worthy just because of Luck (too many puns are going to come from the name). There’s too many moving parts.
I think the NFL is boring because the owners seem a little bit more conscious about spending. Sure, a player coming off a freak year is sure to land an overly-lavish contract. That happens in every sport. But where that contract comes from is the key. In the NFL, a lower tier team is not going to make the deal. And an upper tier team probably has a plan in place. Suppose Jacoby Jones, recently signed by the Ravens, has a freak year. I think spenders in the NFL are able to distinguish real talent from freak talent. It’s likely that a low team like the Chiefs offers a 1- or 2-year tender to see if it’s real. I think a higher team passes over Jones completely, or offers a 1- or 2-year tender because they are skeptical.
Wes Welker is a more consistent player. And he gets contract offers like one. That low team is going to offer top receiver money to get Welker. And the top teams are likely to do the same. Because one year isn’t like to make a huge difference. NFL owners bid on what they really expect to get.
But in the NBA, freak years are often rewarded. I hate to think about this idea… but I know it’s at least going through his own mind… But you know that Avery Bradley wants to cash in on what he’s done this season. I don’t blame him. A lower team like Cleveland might actually offer Bradley an outrageous contract. He might be “the one” for them… regardless of having no statistical proof whether this season was ceiling or baseline. But a higher team like OKC is not going to make the same offer. In fact, I think no big-time team is going to make a dream offer to Bradley. Yet…
So yeah, there’s still the Drew Brees situation… but the NFL offseason lasted like 43 minutes. The draft might as well happen on the first day of free agency because nothing exciting happened in the lead-in weeks and nothing is likely to happen until camp starts.
#11: The NBA Offseason Is Not Boring.
Look at who is going to be a free agent this summer: Deron Williams, Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, Chauncey Billups, Jason Terry, Goran Dragic,
Mo Williams, Ramon Sessions, Jeremy Lin, Eric Gordon, OJ Mayo, Ray Allen, Lou Williams, JR Smith, Tracy McGrady, Gerald Wallace, Nic Batum, Grant Hill, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, Michael Beasley, Brandon Bass, Kris Humphries, Carl Landry, JJ Hickson, Ryan Anderson, Ersan Ilyasova, Jason Maxiell, Brian Scalabrine, Andrew Bynum, Roy Hibbert, Brook Lopez, JaVale McGee, Spencer Hawes, Greg Stiemsma…
Those are just names I pulled off the list that I know are valuable from a fantasy standpoint. Now imagine you’re a team with money to spend. Welcome to the buffet.
It’s storyline central. Vets like Nash, Kidd, Billups, Hill… they’re gonna cash in because of their leadership. And the fact that they are still playing valuable minutes. D-Williams, Jason Terry, Lin, Bynum… they’re gonna get paid like they’re franchise players. And the most important story: WHO WINS THE SCALABRINE SWEEPSTAKES?!
How’s this for an overhaul that won’t break your wallet… Nash (on a 1-year), Batum, Ilyasova, and Hibbert. You just built the basis for a team that I think makes it pretty deep into the playoffs. Assuming you also have a star on your team… maybe a championship.
As a Celtics fan, I want as least 2 of those free agents this summer. Even if I’m the Thunder, I think I try and add depth with one or two.
And don’t forget the draft! Kentucky projects to have 6 players drafted… Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, Marquis Teague, Doron Lamb, and Darius Miller. Andre Drummond… Jared Sullinger… Harrison Barnes… Austin Rivers… Fab Melo**… If you got money coming off the books, this is gonna be a fun summer. And if you’re handcuffed, then go buy NBA 2K12 and play fantasy owner.
**That mock draft link has Fab Melo going to OKC. Which would be awesome… but they don’t need him. They already have Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka. Draft-and-trade, anyone?
#12: What’s Next For Boston?
A lot of people are saying this is the final run for Boston and the Big 3. It’s probably the truth. And assuming they go down swinging, I’m completely ok with that. Guess what, I really enjoy this version of the Celtics. I like the starting five as Garnett-Bass-Pierce-Bradley-Rondo. I dig the second unit being Pietrus-Allen-Dooling. I even like the front court depth we have with Stiem-roller and Hollins. This is a team that will fight forever**. Reminds me of the ’08 championship team.
**Imagine if we had Jeff Green and/or Chris Wilcox…
I think we can make this last though. At least 2 more years. Hopefully 1 more banner.
Our free agent class: Keyon Dooling, Ray Allen, Mickael Pietrus, Marquis Daniels, Sasha Pavlovic, Jeff Green, Kevin Garnett, Brandon Bass, Chris Wilcox, Jermaine O’Neal, Greg Stiemsma, and Ryan Hollins… So basically, our whole team. That leaves us with Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, JaJuan Johnson, and E-Twaun Moore under contract. Using a roster of 15, we need to fill 10 spots. Let’s use the 2011-2012 roster/salary numbers (according to the always trusty basketball-reference.com)… so we already have $28.3 of our $80 million spent.
First: let’s bring back the players we need to bring back. These guys are crucial to us staying a playoff team and giving us quality role play. Mickael Pietrus, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, Greg Stiemsma. Our roster is now up to 9, 6 open spots. And giving each player a $1 million salary increase, we’ve spent $45.6 mill (I gave $8 million to Green… a very generous number).
In an ideal world, I would try and bring back Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. Part loyalty, part respect, partly to finish their careers how they want. They would have to take pay cuts, but I’m thinking somewhere around $12 million a year for KG and $7 million a year for Ray.
That would give is 11 players, $64.6 million. We have $15.4 million to spend on 5 players. We have 1 PG, 2 SG, 3 SF, 1 PF, 1 SF/PF, 1 C, and 2 PF/C. Very solid. A potential starting 5 of Rondo, Bradley, Pierce, Bass, and Garnett still. Bench core of Allen, Pietrus, Green, and Stiemsma. We would still need a backup PG and some depth players. Maybe a new starter.
I would try to trade both 1st round picks and the 2nd round pick to move up in the draft and get Austin Rivers. Most likely he’s still gonna be raw for the NBA level and no one is going to get more from him than his own father. How about adding these two free agents: Goran Dragic and Ersan Ilyasova. Dragic is a great PG to play behind Rondo for $3 million. And Ilyasova gives the bench reliable scoring/rebounding for $3.5 million. We just put together a nasty team and we still have a spot open and $7.65 million to spend (I gave Rivers $1.25 million).
Perfect, because I think Ryan Hollins has earned a return.
And we actually shed some salary. Look at this roster variation:
GUARDS: Rajon Rondo (STARTER), Avery Bradley (STARTER), Ray Allen, Goran Dragic, Austin Rivers.
FORWARDS: Paul Pierce (STARTER), Ersan Ilyasova (STARTER), Brandon Bass, E-Twaun Moore, Mickael Pietrus, Jeff Green.
CENTERS: Kevin Garnett (STARTER), JaJuan Johnson, Greg Stiemsma, Ryan Hollins.
Hold on, I need to call Danny Ainge.
But if Ray and KG are on their way out, I think we are still good. We can still follow the same plan. Except instead of getting Ray for $7 million, maybe we can get OJ Mayo. And instead of bringing back KG for $12 million, we get Brook Lopez (I think the Nets make this trade: Boston’s 2 2012 first round picks + 2012 second round pick + maybe Boston’s 2013 second rounder for NJ’s first round pick + Brook Lopez).
Imagine that offseason haul: OJ Mayo, Austin Rivers, Goran Dragic, Ersan Ilyasova, and Brook Lopez. Wow.
#13: Josh Hamilton vs Albert Pujols vs Prince Fielder.
Pujols was supposed to be the sure free agent bet. And if you couldn’t get Pujols, you were supposed to try to get Prince. But it appears there was a third big name that should have been on the radar. And the only reason he wasn’t, was because he sabotaged himself.
Josh Hamilton. He doesn’t quite put up the same ridiculous stat lines like Big Al or Prince, but check this out (based on 162-game averages, thanks to baseball-reference.com):
Player A: 196 hits, 121 runs scored, 42 HR, 125 RBIs, 8 stolen bases, .326 batting average, 168 OPS+
Player B: 195 hits, 104 runs scored, 35 HR, 122 RBIs, 10 stolen bases, .314 batting average, 140 OPS+
Player C: 162 hits, 93 runs scored, 37 HR, 106 RBIs, 3 stolen bases, .283 batting average, 142 OPS+
Player A is Albert Pujols. Player B is Josh Hamilton. Player C is Prince Fielder.
If I’m in charge of a franchise, I’m going with Hamilton. Numbers are up there with Pujols, but Hamilton is gonna be a lot cheaper.
But then he had to relapse. And that put his negotiations on hold. Which is bad for the Rangers.
Because since the season started, look at these numbers (as of 17 May):
Pujols: 31 hits, 10 runs scored, 1 HR, 14 RBIs, 0 stolen bases, .212 batting average, 53 OPS+
Hamilton: 53 hits, 31 runs scored, 18 HR, 45 RBIs, 2 stolen bases, .402 batting average, 240 OPS+
Fielder: 40 hits, 21 runs scored, 5 HR, 18 RBIs, 1 stolen base, .292 batting average, 123 OPS+
It’s a small sample size, but the numbers speak a lot. Take Pujols and extrapolate his numbers into a full season’s projections: 140 hits, 45 runs scored, 5 HR, 63 RBIs. That would easily be his worst season ever**. And do the same for Hamilton: 251 hits, 147 runs scored, 86 HR, 214 RBIs***.
**Let’s be honest, he is gonna snap out of the funk sooner than later. But it’s surprising how slow he has started.
***Also never going to stay on this pace. But look at those differences!
If Pujols can get a crazy contract, you can only imagine what Josh Hamilton is about to start looking for…
[EDIT: Hamilton actually CAN’T get a crazy contract. Those contracts are now prohibited.]
#14: Washington Nationals.
Wow… what is going on in the baseball world? I’m being for real, too. The Nationals were a trendy pick during the preseason. I even mentioned them in good light in my preview. They added Edwin Jackson and Gio Gonzalez to bolster a rotation that already featured Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann. They had Bryce Harper waiting to be called up. And they had some promising players in Wilson Ramos, Ian Desmond, Ryan Zimmerman, Michael Morse, Drew Storen, and Jayson Werth.
So what has happened so far? Well, Ramos went down for the season~. And Morse hasn’t played a single inning yet. Werth broke his wrist early and is out for 3 months. Brad Lidge started the season, but before he could settle in, he joined Storen on the DL. So you could say this season has been a nightmare.
And you would be an idiot. Because as of 17 May, the Nationals are 23-14 and in 1st place in the NL East. WHAT?! How is that possible?
Well, look at the rotation’s numbers. Way better than anyone could have assumed.
Strasburg: 3 wins-1 loss, 56 Ks/12 BBs in 48 innings, 2.25 ERA, hitters batting .214, 1.02 WHIP
Zimmermann: 2 wins-3 losses, 32 Ks/8 BBs in 46 innings, 2.14 ERA, hitters batting .219, 0.97 WHIP
Gonzalez: 5 wins-1 loss, 60 Ks/19 BBs in 48 innings, 2.22 ERA, hitters batting .169, 0.99 WHIP
Jackson: 1 win-1 loss, 38 Ks/9 BBs in 43 innings, 3.71 ERA, hitters batting .216, 1.01 WHIP
Detwiler: 3 wins-2 losses, 28 Ks/10 BBs in 39 innings, 2.75 ERA, hitters batting .224, 1.09 WHIP
Not fully impressed yet? Well they already pulled the trigger on Bryce Harper and he was quick to hit his first 2 homeruns. He even had his first curtain call already. But the offense is being led by… Adam LaRoche?! No way. It’s only been 33 games, but his numbers look great. .339 batting average. 7 HR and 29 RBIs. Very surprising; very solid.
I have no idea if the Nationals can sustain this output. I want to say no. But this is how the Tampa Bay Rays became a playoff team. They found the right way to click, backed it up with great pitching, and now they can make power moves to keep ahead of the curve. I should be worried…
#15: Triple H Accompanies Floyd Mayweather.
I already told you that I am ignorant about boxing. But how’s that for an entourage? Mayweather had Justin Bieber and Triple H with him for the Cotto fight. I really have no idea what the point was to include Justin Bieber. I guess it just makes him look like a good guy (that happens to be going to jail for domestic abuse)… or maybe it’s Bieber trying to get some street cred. I don’t know.
I do know that Paul Levesque is a true badass. Professional wrestling is fake—we all know that. But how many athletes do you know that have successfully returned from a torn quad? And how many do you know that have returned from a SECOND torn quad? Yeah. Like I said, Triple H is a badass.
I think it might be fun to write a wrestling article, as I grew up watching it. But that’s for another time.
I just think it was totally awesome to hear that Triple H walked Mayweather to the ring, especially since Brock Lesnar has gone back to wrestling.
#16: Some Crazy Ideas.
We’ve made it through another group of things I wanted to touch on during my mini-hiatus. And we still have one more group to go. But before we can get there, I want to make some wild and crazy suggestions. Some of these might be completely far-fetched and impossible. Some of these might be valid ideas. But these are things I would do, if I was in a position of authority.
Idea 1: Rebuild the Boston Celtics like I did earlier in this article.
I want NBA 2K13 to come out right now. And I want the ratings to reflect the entire full season plus playoffs, as well as a fair representation of what the next draft class may be like. Then I want to build my team. Rondo, Bradley, Allen, Dragic, Rivers, Pierce, Ilyasova, Bass, Moore, Pietrus, Green, Garnett, Johnson, Stiemsma, and Hollins. Then I want to build a second team that replaces Allen and Garnett with Mayo and Lopez. And I will run the simulations. I think Boston does very well in both scenarios.
Idea 2: Create some NFL offseason excitement.
This is might be difficult. But I think we need it. Some feuds need to get going. Blood feuds. Like Ravens-Steelers type of feuds. And it shouldn’t be hard to do. A lot of the seeds are already planted. We just need some way to make them grow.
Instant Feud: Oh hey, what’s up?
Reality TV: Not much.
Instant Feud: I think we should meet about some business…
Boom. Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow as roommates. Call it “The Other Bros” or something. We might see what an angry Tebow is like. Or what about a show where Tony Romo and Mark Sanchez compete in things that Spanish-American people are good at. And have them both keep choking when it comes to pressure times. What about a show where Matt Cassel is the most hated man in a smaller football city. And then make him compete with Kevin Kolb for that distinction. And then with Billy Cundiff in a bonus spinoff. Have Peyton Manning host it and hope he takes lots of jabs at Indy’s owner.
Idea 3: The Atlanta Falcons need to play like they’re a video game.
Mike Smith already likes to go for 4th downs. Take the next step. Start playing with mega-balls. Casually go for it on 4th downs—especially 4th and long. Run some trick plays. Razzle dazzle. They have the tools.
Idea 4: Tim Lincecum needs to get traded… to the Orioles.
There’s something going on with Tim Lincecum. He’s a Cy Young-caliber pitcher. That puts up win-loss numbers like this: 7-5, 18-5, 15-7, 16-10, 13-14, 2-3. Yeah, he’s got dominating stuff. For a team that can’t get him the wins. It effects all members of the staff. But that’s why this trade is so good.
The Orioles send a package like… Nolan Reimold, Nick Johnson, and Zach Britton for Tim Lincecum (and maybe Angel Pagan?).
The Giants get a young outfielder that can slug it with the potential to get better and a young arm with promise. They also get a risky bench bat with pop.
The Orioles get the #1 starter they’ve been looking for ever since Mike Mussina left town. And Erik Bedard got traded. And Jeremy Guthrie never was. The Orioles have an offense. They will give Lincecum the run support he needs to really dominate. The O’s won’t even miss Reimold too much now that Xavier Avery has been called up. And getting rid of Nick Johnson helps them out with the Johnson/Chris Davis/Wilson Betemit jam.
Idea 5: Steve Nash should sign with the Bulls.
It would be an injustice for Steve Nash to retire with no rings. Derrick Rose needs a co-star. Perfect match. Rose can be an incredible shooting guard, focusing on HIS game. Nash will have so many tools. He can dish it to Rose, dish it to Deng, try and find Noah in the paint. Do it, Nash.
And there we go. We finished another leg of the journey. One more to go. Once again, leave a comment. Start an argument. We got a big way of closing this one out. You don’t want to miss it.