Sunday, February 24, 2008

Tiger's Dominance

The image of perfection? I think so. Tiger continued his jaw-dropping run at the PGA Tour record books today in defeating Stewart Cink 8 and 7 in the 36-hole championship match of the Accenture Match Play Championship. That stands as the largest margin of victory in a final match in the event's history, not to mention Cink had to make a long eagle putt just to avoid losing 9 and 8. Tiger has now won four straight PGA Tour events and eight of his last nine events worldwide. Unbelievable. He never takes a round off and pulls off some of the most amazing shots I've ever seen, even when he's under massive amounts of pressure. I know analysts and experts get carried away in picking Tiger to win every tournament, but I seriously think that if anyone is ever going to win the Grand Slam (all four majors in one year), this would be the year. Here's the breakdown and reasons why he could win each:

The Masters (April): He's donned the green jacket four times in his career and since he let last year's tournament slip away to Zach Johnson, he'll have something to prove and undoubtedly win his fifth Masters.
The U.S. Open at Torrey Pines (June): Tiger has won the Buick Invitational, which is played at Torrey Pines each year, SIX times: in 1999, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, and earlier this January in 2008. Might as well rename the course Tiger Pines.
The British Open at Royal Birkdale (July): Tiger came in 2nd and missed out on a playoff by one stroke the last time the Open was held at Royal 1998. Do you have any idea how much better Tiger is right now than he was back in 1998? The answer is a lot.
The PGA Championship at Oakland Hills (August): As an amateur in 1996, Tiger briefly held the lead at the U.S. Open at Oakland Hills. If he could get a lead as an amateur on this course when it was in U.S. Open condition, I can't imagine anything stopping him from hoisting the Wanamaker trophy for a third consecutive season.

He is by far the most dominant player in any sport of this generation and perhaps in the history of sports. On a side note, does anyone in the world look better in red than he does on Sundays? Elisha Cuthbert seems to be his only competition.

As much as I love watching and writing about the wonderful game of golf, I must move on to other sports news because snow is still pounding the Northeast and ruining my hopes of golfing as soon as possible.

In the NBA, the Pistons beat the Suns this afternoon by a whopping 30 points to move their record to 41-15, only two games behind the struggling Celtics. This Pistons team seems hungrier than previous ones and could be even better than the title team of 2004. I think they are playing some great basketball right now and as long as they stay hungry and inspired come playoff time, there's not a team in the league that will beat them in a seven-game series.

In the NHL, the Wings continue to struggle, having lost eight of their past nine contests. I don't ever like to see my team lose but this losing streak might actually be a blessing in disguise. It's good for them to get the majority of their injuries out of the way now because it certainly cost them in the playoffs last year. Losing Lidstrom, Rafalski, Kronwall and Chelios on the blueline and their starting goalie in Hasek (not to mention losing Dan Cleary for 6-8 weeks with a broken jaw) certainly makes the coming months more difficult but it's better to have those bumps now than in April or May.
One last thing worth mentioning regarding the NHL is the fast-approaching trade deadline on Tuesday. I really want to see the Red Wings make a move and pick up either some grit or another scorer, namely Fedorov, Sundin, or Hossa, but I would settle for any kind of good trade that would help them for the playoffs. If GM Ken Holland does decide to stay quiet at the deadline though, the one thing I would hope for is that neither the Ducks nor the Sharks improve and sign a high-caliber player. They're hard enough to beat as it is.

The NFL Combine took place this week in Indianapolis and four Michigan players took part in the drills. Mike Hart ran a slow forty yard dash time (4.67) and his stock is apparently falling but he shouldn't be looked at for speed and wasn't likely to go very high in the draft anyway. His work ethic and ball control skills speak for themselves and any team that takes him should be lucky to get such a great player and person.

Mario Manningham's stock is decreasing as well, though it's in more of a free-fall than Hart's. Manningham has been looked at mostly because of his speed and deep-threat ability but a 4.59 forty yard dash time has forced teams to take a second look at him and that might move him out of the first round.

Chad Henne remains the 3rd best quarterback in most people's minds but as far as I'm concerned, he is far superior to Matt Ryan and Brian Brohm, the two supposedly ahead of him. You could assume I'm biased or look at the facts that Henne has great clutch abilities, an absolute rocket arm, great mechanics, and though many scouts have talked about him being "injury prone," they seem to forget his toughness, shown best when he played through a dislocated shoulder against Illinois this year (the pain was so much that he took only shotgun snaps because if he went under center, his shoulder would pop out). Regardless of how I feel about him, he's likely a 2nd round pick no matter what.

Jake Long, on the other hand, has impressed all sorts of players and coaches at the combine. He was already a top five pick but is showing the scouts that he might be worth the #1 overall choice. He's an absolute beast, out benching everyone at the combine with 37 reps of 225 lbs. Oh, and in his free time he also played a nice little prank on Vernon Gholston, a defensive lineman from Ohio State. Great idea and flawless execution.

That's all for now, hope you enjoy the last few days of February. The best month of the year is just around the corner!

Friday, February 15, 2008

A Mixture of Topics

With very little going on in sports recently, this post will include summaries of the Detroit sports scene along with my predictions for the upcoming baseball season. A movie review and some music suggestions will find their way into the fray as well.

First, the NHL: Since my last post, when I ventured to Boston to see the Red Wings continue their great season with a victory over the Bruins, the team has been falling from grace...hard. In the four games since, they are 1-3-1. It started with a monumental collapse against the Kings when they somehow managed to allow 4 goals in the 3rd period and lost the game 5-3. The loss to the Ducks later that week could not have been more aggravating because everything about the game was completely unfair, topped off by a completely blown call with 40 seconds left when Lidstrom had his tying goal waved off by a phantom goaltender interference call on Holmstrom. Bull. Still, even with these recent struggles, I have confidence that this streak will end and that the team will still make a strong run at the Cup come playoff time. They are beat up right now, with Hasek, Cleary, Kronwall, and Rafalski out of the lineup. Once all of those guys get better...this team will strike fear into their opponent's hearts.

Onto the NBA: The Pistons are one of the hottest teams in the Association heading into the All-Star break, having won 10 consecutive games. This team is deeper than any Pistons team I can remember watching in the past eight years, including their title team of 2004. I really think that no one in the East will be able to contend with them in a seven-game series with their added depth of Afflalo, Stuckey, Amir Johnson, Maxiell, and so many others. This team is better than good, they are grrrrrreat. I feel very good about any potential match-ups in the East once the playoffs start, including those pesky Celts. They could take that match-up in six, even without home court advantage.

Moving on...the 2008 baseball season officially starts in my mind when the Tigers take the field on March 31st to play the Royals. Since there is so little to write about, I'll give you loyal readers my preseason predictions with absolutely no analysis to go along with them.

How They'll Finish in '08:

AL East: Boston, New York, Baltimore, Toronto, Tampa Bay
AL Central: Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago, Minnesota, Kansas City
AL West: Seattle, Anaheim, Oakland, Texas
NL East: New York, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Florida, Washington
NL Central: Chicago, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Houston, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh
NL West: San Diego, Arizona, Los Angeles, Colorado, San Francisco

ALDS: Boston over Cleveland, Detroit over Seattle
NLDS: New York over Chicago, Atlanta over San Diego
ALCS: Detroit over Boston (What, you think I'd pick against my team?)
NLCS: Atlanta over New York
World Series: Detroit over Atlanta

Woo...Go Tigers. They will have by far the best lineup in baseball and as long as they get some good relief pitching from the unknowns in their bullpen they can win it all.

If you have any questions or concerns about my picks, know that there are only two things you should consider in reading my predictions. One, that the Detroit Tigers are my favorite team and two, that everything else was based on a hunch. I have nowhere near enough patience to actually look at who plays for a team like the Nationals (or anyone in the NL for that matter) and then try to figure out who will finish where. It is all a guess anyway so I might as well make it a genuine one based solely on a lack of information.

Now for a movie review...

There Will Be Blood - Eh. I didn't think too much of the plot and was bored through the middle parts. The movie was 2 hours and 40 minutes long and frankly, with the exception of the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter movies, that's too long for me. I like plenty of different movies but this one was just not for's that simple. I will however, commend Daniel Day Lewis on a great acting performance. Final verdict: 2 out of 5 stars.

As for the music scene...I watched Almost Famous last weekend while I was bored because it is one of my all-time favorite movies and I hadn't seen it in a long time. It turned out to be a great decision because afterwards, I decided to download and listen to the entire collections of Led Zeppelin and The Who. And I have to tell you, it was an unbelievable experience. If you haven't listened to such fantastic music, I highly recommend them both. Only listening to the greatest hits CDs and compilation albums, like I did previously, just doesn't cut it. There is a reason why the artists made each album the way they did, so it only makes sense to listen to all of the songs in the way they were meant to be listened to.

Now, I loved every album produced by both bands, but I was able to pick out a favorite for each. Tommy from The Who was a no-brainer. It is probably one of my favorite albums of all time. I listened to it more than three full times this week and it is comprised of 24 songs. My favorite album from Led Zeppelin, on the other hand, was a much tougher decision. Each Zeppelin album was short and fantastic, but I finally decided on Led Zeppelin IV. Every single song on that album could play in my head for days and I would still enjoy them, so that's why it got my vote.

Well, that's all I have for now. Hope you enjoyed the myriad of topic and Happy Valentine's Day everyone! Adios, amigos.

Monday, February 4, 2008

A Red and White Victory!

As the pictures above show, I attended the Detroit Red Wings game against the Boston Bruins this past Saturday in Boston and had the time of my life. I had second row seats with two good friends and my Mom and we absolutely loved being that close to the ice. While watching the Red Wings' players warm-up and skate around in front of me, I truly bubbled with enthusiasm. I felt like a five-year-old on Christmas morning, completely excited and without another care in the world. It would have been a fantastic experience whether the Wings won or lost but gladly they won 3-1, continuing their great season and extending their winning streak to seven games.

Super Bowl Recap

There is so much to say about the Giants' unfathomable upset and the Patriots' colossal collapse in Super Bowl XLII, which ended with a Giants victory in the final seconds, 17-14. My roommate summed it up best when the confetti rained down and said, "I knew the Giants had a chance to win this game...but the thought that they could actually win it never even entered my mind."

The MVP of the game was awarded to Eli Manning, further proving that even a morbid performance by the winning quarterback will result in the MVP award as long as no one else stands out. The more deserving players of the MVP would be the New York Giants defensive linemen. They played phenomenally and were the sole reason why the Patriots didn't win this game.

Although it may have seemed like it to Patriots fans, the team did not play poorly. Everyone on the team did enough for the Pats to win, except for the offensive linemen, who had by far their worst game of the season. Had those burly, bearded linemen even pulled off a sloppy, mediocre performance, Tom Brady would have had enough time to find open receivers and lead his team to victory. Unfortunately, they couldn't defend the Giants attack for any amount of consecutive plays, leaving Brady out of rhythm for the entirety of the game.

As to my prediction and analysis, I stick by everything that I said and I feel like I was right on many of the position advantages. Brady vastly outplayed Manning and ended up with better statistics even though he was tasting turf all night while Manning had plenty of protection. The running backs match-up was close, the Giants receivers were surprisingly good but not significantly better than the Patriots, and both defenses played well as a whole. This game completely hinged on the amount of pressure that the Giants put on Brady and the absolute failure of New England's offensive line to protect him, something I didn't even consider being a factor because of the way the line had played all season long.

I am still completely convinced that this Patriots team is the best of all-time. I'd pick them over the '85 Bears, the '72 Dolphins, the '84 49ers, the '92 Cowboys, the '78 Steelers, anyone. Problem is, all of those teams won Super Bowls while the Pats are stuck on 18-1. I firmly believe that if the Patriots had 1,000,000 opportunities to play this Giants team, they would literally win 999,999. The Giants pulled off the "one-in-a-million" chance that they had, and the result could not have been more shocking.

I will only offer congratulations to Amani Toomer and Michael Strahan, the two players I respect most on this Giants team. Toomer rode the Giants roller coaster through good years and bad years after his great seasons at Michigan and for that, I congratulate him. Michael Strahan has always been a great defensive end in the league even while playing on some poor Giants teams and has always offered his help to children for the NFL's foundations. He is truly a class act and I congratulate him as well.

One thing about this game that will forever aggravate me is the fact that Eli Manning now has a Super Bowl ring and will be considered "validated" in the NFL as an upper-echelon quarterback by analysts and experts. My problems with Eli started with his refusal to play for the then-(4-12)-Chargers, who drafted him #1 overall in the 2004 NFL Draft. It shows the utmost disrespect for the game of football and I will forever think of him as a spoiled brat. Eli pleaded his hopes of playing in New York to the media and pouted on stage when called up by Paul Tagliabue to receive his Chargers hat and jersey. On the flipside, I have the utmost respect for his brother, Peyton, who was drafted #1 overall by a similarly bad team at the time (the Colts picked him #1 in 1998 after a 3-13 season) and toughed it out for a few years before becoming one of the best quarterbacks in the game today. It is one thing to want to play for a certain team because everyone being picked in the draft feels that way even if they don't say it. It is however, a completely different thing to publicly say that you will refuse to play for a specific team and express your desires for a trade before you even enter the league.

In closing, the loss last night was a completely depressing letdown to what was previously a phenomenal weekend. It pains me to think that even if Brady wins a couple more Super Bowls and goes down as the best quarterback in history, he was only a few minutes away from getting the perfect season that would have solidified his place at the highest level of football stardom.