Sunday Smorgasbord 6-13
- Well, if there's big news we need to catch up on, it is the Redskins going out and acquiring Donovan McNabb for a pair of draft picks, including this year's second round pick. Put us in the unimpressed camp for a number of reasons. We've always thought that McNabb was slightly overrated as quarterback. He was able to dominate a down NFC East when the NFC as a whole was underwhelming. But while Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan set about to rebuild the offensive line, Trent Williams is a nice start but unproven and only 1/5 of the solution, it doesn't matter who is playing quarterback for the Redskins because they won't have the proper protection from the offensive line. Jason Campbell was unfairly scapegoated though he won't get a chance to prove that out in the even bigger zoo in Oakland so we just have to watch McNabb getting driven into the ground in order to prove the point. Furthermore, even if McNabb is as good as advertised and able to overcome his bad offensive line, it doesn't change the fact that the Redskins are going to run a 3-4 defense with 4-3 personnel. Good coaches adapt their systems to their talent, not their talent to the system and that also says nothing of the broken-down retreads in the backfield with McNabb. Our official prediction, the Redskins will be lucky to finish 8-8 this season and anything better than that is wildly exceeding our expectations.
- And speaking of wildly exceeding expectations, how about this Steven Strasburg kid? He certainly lived up to the hype on Tuesday night, a game we missed because real life intervened (and no, we're not complaining), and despite struggling with a crummy pitcher's mound today in Cleveland, is off to a 2-0 start in the Majors. So while the Nats themselves continue to exceed expectations, hovering around .500 despite a June Swoon, the question becomes, how much will the Nats rely upon Strasburg for the rest of the season? In an attempt to prevent injury and guard against burnout, everybody knows that he has a strict limit on the number of innings he is going to pitch this season so should the Nats end up contending for a playoff spot, he is not likely to be available to get the team over the hump. That more than anything else is why we think the idea of the Nats being buyers at the trade deadline is foolish. But at least we once again have a baseball team worth watching.
- No we didn't forget about Albert Haynesworth in the first bullet. We just liked the exceeding expectations segue too much to pass it up. But as for Haynesworth, we agree that if you're going to pay somebody that amount of $$$$$ the least he can do is show up for the season in shape. However, if you're going to call team activities, "optional" then you cannot require that everybody takes part in them. Furthermore, we reject the notion that just because a guy is the highest paid player on the team, that he must be some sort of leader. Giving a guy $$$$$ doesn't make him a leader, it is his actions and, most importantly, his personality that gets people to follow him. But we digress, the ball is firmly in Haynesworth's court now. He MUST show up for training camp in the best shape of his life. If he doesn't then he's as good as gone. If he does, he presents a difficult dilemma for Shanahan in that Haynesworth showing up in fantastic shape without attending the mandatory optional workouts would undercut Shanahan's authority who is a noted taskmaster. But if Haynesworth shows up in shape and dominates, Shanahan has to cut off his own nose to spite his face to maintain his authority. That's the real dilemma to watch for here.
- And once again the World Cup is upon us and in international soccer, more so than hockey, it really does come down to goaltending. There was no bigger example of that than yesterday as Tim Howard made a number of timely and big saves for the United States as Robert Green came up with the biggest gaffe ever at that level in a 1-1 tie. We don't think Green was or will be given enough credit for rebounding from his miscue to come up with a huge save on Jozy Altidore in the second half to preserve the single point for the Brits. But for the U.S., Tim Howard is going to be the key going forward for the United States as England's domination showed that the U.S. is still not at the level of the world powers. Howard will have to overcome his rib injury and play as well if not better than Brad Freidel did eight years ago for the U.S. to make any noise in South Africa.
- While we're not going to comment on Tiger Wood's "extra curricular activities," we find it a little ridiculous the amount of criticism that he's taking for bowing out of tournaments early because of injury. Do people really need to have to them explained the difference between playing hurt when a major championship is on the line and when they're far behind in a run-of-the-mill tournament with no chance of ever catching up? This is a prime example of the problem with a 24/7 sports news cycle.
- Ok, we'll admit we had a terrible year this year in picking the Stanley Cup Playoffs but once the finals were set we thought that Chicago would win the Cup in either four or five games. Again, it shows what we knew this year that it took six games. But for the Caps fans gnashing their teeth over "being passed" by a team that rebuilt after the Caps, know that the criminal salary cap mismanagement made this a real "do or die" year for the Blackhawks and that it is just about back to the drawing board for them. As for the Flyers, we happen to think that a series this close is probably the worst thing for them. They will now think like we did in 1998 that they're close, they just need a little push to get them over the hump. However, remember that the Flyers beat a New Jersey team that has been bounced in the first round for three years in a row now. They then beat a Bruins team that authored one of the greatest chokes of all-time. Finally, the Flyers faced a Montreal team who's magic had run out. The Flyers aren't close folks and a goaltender won't solve their problems.
- With the NCAA Conferences once again realigning themselves, we find it interesting to say the least that the Big "Ten" is interested in Maryland. While we don't think that Maryland would be a good fit in the Big "Ten", or the SEC which has popped up recently, for a number of reasons, it would be in Maryland's best interest to make the move if one was offered. First of all, there is little doubt to us that this current run of realignment will leave the ACC in a diminished state, even if the ACC doesn't lose any schools. If the Big "Ten" is willing to share their TV revenue with Maryland, then Maryland needs to accept the gift because they would never see that kind of $$$$$ staying the in ACC. Like it or not, college athletics is now driven by $$$$$ (why else would the NCAA expand the Men's Basketball tournament?) and for a school like Maryland, which has had issues balancing their budgets, they should get in on the cash grab anyway they can.
- Ok this week, the Nats continue inter-league play when they visit the Detroit Tigers for three games starting Tuesday night. They're back home at Nats Ark on Friday for a three game set against the Chicago White Sox with two of the three games on national TV. D.C. United will play what amounts to a road game at RFK when they host the El Salvadorian National Team in a charity fundraiser match on Saturday evening.
- As always folks, please send all comments, criticisms, corrections, questions, suggestions, and ways to use bologna in sandwiches to "capsnut" over at gmail dot com.
Labels: Sunday Smorgasbords