Saturday, April 23, 2005

Saturday sports thoughts

  • In a 162-game season, there are going to be a lot of losses. Some sting more than others. One of the particularly painful ways to lose is to trail for most of the game on the road, tie the game in the 9th, and immediately lose it in the bottom of the 9th. That never happened to the 2004 Red Sox in any of their 81 road games. WIth the 5-4 loss in Tampa last night, the 2005 Red Sox have done it 3 times in their first 9.

  • Today provides one of the worst excuses on the yearly calendar for the sports fan to spend hours in front of ESPN, as the NFL draft takes center stage. The signal-to-noise ratio is lower today than any other ESPN broadcast of the year (and that's saying something.) The fact is that no one knows what's happening, and won't for a while. Everyone will produce their obligatory draft grades next week, and by the time there's enough information to grade the grades, they'll be long forgotten.

    It's exciting for the fans of the teams with top 10 picks, or multiple first rounders. For the teams at the bottom, there will be 5 hours of talk about players that will be long gone before your team's on the board. I've watched in the past, and may (if it rains) flip through this afternoon. I may even offer thoughts on it early next week. But I'll try not to pretend that I know what I'm talking about.

    There will be some good and accurate analysis of the draft. It's just impossible to know, ahead of time, which it is. No one came out of the 2000 draft talking about what a steal the Patriots had gotten with Tom Brady in the 6th round.

    The best piece of analysis that I remember seeing came from Dr. Z after the 2003 draft.

    B+) New England -- I was on a Boston radio show the day after the draft and the host said to me, "Well, another lousy draft for the Patriots," and I had to take issue with that. The point I tried to make was that you don't need a flashy name up on top to have a good draft list. Depth is important, too, and I can go through five rounds of New England's draft before I can find someone I don't think will help the Patriots this year. At the top is Ty Warren, a good, functionally sound DT. Eugene Wilson was in the thick of the CB mix, right after the elite pair of Terence Newman and Marcus Trufant. Bethel Johnson, also taken in the second round, was the second-fastest runner in the draft, at 4.30 in the 40, and he returns kicks, too. DT Dan Klecko (fourth) is the son of Joe, who should be in the Hall of Fame, and I've seen the same kind of comments I did when daddy was coming out -- lacking all the measurables except heart, desire and the ability to play football. Their other fourth rounder, Asante Samuel, is a nickel CB type with good ball skills. One round later is a hard-working center, Dan Koppen, who was ranked by some scouts among the top five at the position. That's six guys I think can help, before we get to QB Kliff Kingsbury, and who knows about QBs? I call it a pretty good draft, and they did more trading and hustling than any other team in the league, and sure, they traded away one of their first-round picks but what they're left with for next year's draft are two No. 1s, two No. 2s and three No. 4s.

    The vast majority of what we see today and for the next couple of weeks won't be close to that correct.

  • The Celtics take the court tonight against Indiana in the first round for the 3rd consecutive year. Two years ago, they won in 6. Last year they got swept. One of the big problems they've had with Indiana over the past couple of years is the presence of Ron Artest, completely shutting down Ron Artest. Artest is, obviously, not playing this year. In addition, the Celtics have got scoring that goes far beyond Pierce. I think Boston's a better team, with more talent and more depth, and I expect them to win this series in 5-7 games.
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