This was a busy week in the world of sports as the NBA All-Star Game, BracketBusters Weekend and the Daytona 500 all took place. Here we look at the highlights in an A-Z format.
A – Any Given Saturday. This Todd Pletcher horse was by far the most impressive Triple Crown contender on the weekend. He looked like a total pro as he easily won the Sam F. Davis Stakes.
B – Big Ten. It’s my favorite conference, so the embarrassment of this season is personal. Ohio State and Wisconsin have been phenomenal, but behind them it’s just plain ugly. Indiana should make the tournament, but a fourth team, if it even makes it, won’t scare anyone. Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue are all hugely underachieving.
C – Chevrolet. It was a huge weekend at Daytona for the Chevys – they took the top four spots and seven of the top fifteen. Things weren’t nearly as rosy for Toyota in their debut – the best they could manage was an uninspiring 23rd.
D – David Carr. The former No. 1 pick can apparently be had from the Texans for just a third round pick. If I was a GM that’s a deal I would make in a second. Sure, he has been inconsistent, but the guy has never had an O-line, and he completed a lot of passes this year. New surroundings and a new line could turn this guy around.
E – Evgeni Malkin. Few teams anywhere are as hot as the Pittsburgh Penguins, and their Russian rookie phenom is a big part of the reason. The team is 14-0-2 in their last 16, and Malkin has 10 goals and 16 assists over that stretch.
F – Florida. What in the world were you guys doing against Vanderbilt? I say all sorts of nice things about you last week and you repay me by laying one of the biggest eggs of the year so far?
G – Griffey, Jr., Ken. Has anyone ever wasted more talent than Griffey? Sure he has impressive career numbers, but he could have done so much more if he had stayed healthy and mentally together. The latest revelation this week is that his broken hand in December came when he was wrestling with his kids. The baseball gods clearly don’t want us to see him at his best.
H – Harvick, Kevin. I feel really bad for Mark Martin, but you have to give Harvick credit for closing hard on the outside and winning by the slimmest of margins at Daytona. It was no fluke – Harvick won the Busch race on Saturday, too. The race probably should have gone yellow on the last lap, but that takes nothing away from what Harvick did.
I – Illiniwek. After 81 years of cheering on Illinois sports, and likely offending thousands of people, Chief Illiniwek has been retired. It was a forced retirement since the NCAA had applied some serious pressure to get rid of the mascot. Will his absence hurt the Illini down the stretch as they battle for a tournament spot?
J – Jordan, Michael. We understand that you’re the greatest player ever, Mikey, but you sure aren’t the greatest slam dunk contest judge ever. That was ridiculous. The guy was guarding the high scores like they were gold and the crowd was a bunch of pirates. He obviously wasn’t watching that ridiculous Dwight Howard sticker dunk, because he had to give it a ten if he was.
K – Kapono, Jason. I’m glad I didn’t find a way to bet on the three point contest, because I never would have picked Kapono to win it. What an impressive performance it was, though. Nowitzki and Arenas had the name and the fans, but Kapono was cool under pressure.
L – Loser. I want to like Kerry Wood. I really do. The guy can obviously throw and he should be well on his way to the Hall of Fame by now, but he is so fragile that it’s ridiculous. This latest setback, an injury from falling while climbing out of a hot tub, has burned up every last ounce of sympathy I have ever had for Wood.
M – Mountaineers. A big win over Wichita State this weekend helps Appalachian State make the case that they belong in the tournament, even if they don’t beat Davidson in the Southern Conference final. They are an intriguing potential Cinderella.
N – Nevada. It seems odd to think that a WAC team could be a 2 or 3 seed, but Nevada should pull that off. They are getting all sorts of hype, and they seem to deserve all of it. After they completely outclassed Northern Iowa this weekend, all that’s left is for you to figure out how deep you are going to put them on your bracket.
O – Outrageous. I have a new hero – Clint Bowyer, the driver of the 07 Chevy. He crossed the finish line at Daytona with his car upside down and on fire. When he climbed out of the car he looked as calm as an accountant sitting in a cubicle. What a wild man.
P – Playoff. It’s always fun to end a golf tournament with a playoff, and the end of the Nissan Open this weekend was especially nice. It gave some hope for interesting golf that someone, Charles Howell III in this case, stared one of the Big Two in the eye and beat him. Now I’ll really be impressed if someone does that to Tiger.
Q – Quit talking. That’s what Curt Schilling should do. Spring training has only just begun, and already the league’s biggest windbag is flapping his gums. Schilling wants the world to know that he is still the ace of the Red Sox, not Japanese stud Daisuke Matsuzaka. What a nice way to welcome a teammate to a new country.
R – Ridiculous. Last week I was wondering if the Chargers would still be competitive with two new coordinators. Now I need to know how they will do with no returning coaches at all. The pissing contest between Marty Schottenheimer and A.J. Smith was one of the most ridiculous things I have ever seen in sports.
S – Salukis. Southern Illinois won a truly amazing BracketBusters game over Butler on the weekend to let the world know that they are for real. They play very solid defense, Jamaal Tatum was impressive and this team could give its opponents nightmares in the tournament.
T – Tags. With NFL teams having so much salary cap space, we can expect to see teams slapping a lot of franchise and transition tags on players to avoid losing them to free agency. Asante Samuel and Lance Briggs were the first, but they won’t be the last. A tagged player is rarely a happy player, so it will be interesting to watch how this plays out.
U – Unnecessary. I’m not the type of guy who needs a lot of things. One thing I definitely don’t need is to see Scottie Pippen back in the NBA. When athletes retire they should have to have a kneecap removed so we don’t have to deal with these ridiculous un-retirements.
V – Virginia Tech. How good are the Hokies? They have beat Duke once and North Carolina twice this season, including once on the road this week, so you might think they are pretty darned good. But then they went out on Sunday as five point favorites and lose to N.C. State. By 25! U-G-L-Y.
W – Wildcats. Arizona may not get a lot of respect because of their lackluster 17-9 mark, their high profile losses, or their dismal 12-14 record against the spread. They are potentially a very deceptive team, though. They have played the toughest schedule in the country – Besides the Pac-10 they have seen North Carolina, Memphis, Louisville and Virginia. Plus they are very young and improving. They could be a mid-seed that does some damage.
X – Xavier. Our beloved Musketeers keep chugging along. They only played one game this week, and it was against lowly Richmond, but they cruised to an easy 21-point win. They’re tied for the lead of the A-10 with UMass and control their own destiny thanks to a win over the Minutemen in January. The only downside is that they were favored by 22.5 over Richmond, so they didn’t cover.
Y – Yawn. All-Star Saturday was as fun as it always is, but why do they insist on still playing the NBA All-Star game? I don’t think that there was a single defensive play all night.
Z – Zito, Barry. We’ve always known that Barry Zito was a bit odd, but coming to your new team and surprising them with a completely new delivery after signing a $126 million contract is very strange. They obviously liked what you were doing before, so maybe you should have told them what you were up to, Barry.
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