Some Of This And Some Of That…

I guess the circle is complete.  Yesterday, Shohei Ohtani hit his first home run in the major leagues.  Last weekend, he made his first start on the mound for the Angels.  Is this the beginning of a “two-way player” movement in MLB?  Scott Ostler wrote a column in the SF Chronicle last weekend drawing parallels between Ohtani and Babe Ruth who was also a pitcher in MLB before he became the slugger we all remember.  This column is not a bunch of fanboy nonsense – – remember, Scott Ostler wrote this not some goober somewhere – – and the comparisons are interesting.

Here is a link to Scott Ostler’s column.  I think it is worth reading in its entirety.

The detailed NFL schedule for next year is not yet available.  We do know which teams will play which opponents and where those games will take place; we do not know the dates and times for all the games.  However, I did do some browsing in some of the teams’ schedules and came up with eight games we should circle once the detailed schedule is released.

  1. Pats at Steelers:  This matchup would have been circled in any year in the past decade or so.  Next year’s game should be a good one too.
  2. Pats at Jags:  After last season’s playoff happenings, this is a must-see game.  Remember, the Jags led 20-10 at one point – – and then…
  3. Eagles vs Jags:  This will be a “London Game” and it may be the best matchup the NFL ever sent across the pond.
  4. Vikes at Eagles:  After last year’s playoff debacle for the Vikes, this has to be a humongous game on their schedule and with their new high-priced QB.
  5. Saints at Vikes:  After the “Minnesota Miracle” knocked the Saints out of the playoffs last year, I want to see this game.
  6. Chargers at Rams:  The game will be in the LA Coliseum and it will determine “home town bragging rights”.
  7. Raiders at Niners:  I know that SF and Oakland are different jurisdictions, but this too will determine “home town bragging rights”.
  8. Niners vs Seahawks (twice):  These games will feature Richard Sherman against whomever Russel Wilson thinks is his #1 receiver.

Looks as if there will be plenty of focal point games next season given that I didn’t even glance at the schedules for three-quarters of the league.

The end of the NBA regular season is finally in sight; most teams have only a handful of games left to play.  The playoff race in the East is not mathematically set; but in reality, we know the teams that are in and the teams that are not.  The playoff race in the West is much less certain; only 3 teams in the West have clinched playoff spots as of this morning.

The regular season is sufficiently close to ending that I feel confident in presenting my three most over-hyped players/storylines of the NBA season.

  • Isaiah Thomas:  Yes, he was injured and did not begin the season until January; but when he did start out with the Cavs he made the team worse not better.  The Cavs seemingly figured that out very quickly because they shipped him to the Lakers at the trade deadline in February where he did nothing to make the Lakers any better.  In fact, the Lakers will miss the playoffs this year and finish with a record below .500.
  • Markelle Fultz:  First we had people pretending to know enough about anatomy to be able to “explain” his mysterious shoulder injury.  Then we got to read and hear about how he might be the biggest bust ever for a guy picked first in the NBA Draft – ignoring the likes of Anthony Bennett and/or LaRue Martin.  Now, people are discussing his psyche and his adjustment to professional life.  The bottom line here is lots more hype and heat than there is performance.
  • Carmelo Anthony:  After what seemed like an eternity, he and the Knicks parted company and the drumbeat was that he was the “third star-player” needed on the Thunder’s roster in order to bring them a championship.  In recent games, Anthony has sat out the entire 4th quarter; that is not what happens to “star-players”.  Oh, by the way, the Thunder are not assured of a playoff spot as of this morning; so, it is not as if those games with him in the bench are meaningless.

Finally, regular readers here know that I was very happy to see Jon Gruden get the head coaching job in Oakland because that got him off the air for Monday Night Football.  It seems as if I am not alone in that sentiment; here is a comment from syndicated columnist Norman Chad:

“Jon Gruden’s nine-year run on ‘Monday Night Football’ has ended.  There were no survivors.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………