Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Streak-busters, End-zone Allergies, and other short points

* Green Bay loses, and the 1972 Dolphins alumni host another champagne-popping party. Or at least, I suppose they did. Do they still do that anymore? Haven't heard. I know I certainly wine-toasted the Chiefs on Sunday. That's not hyperbole, by the way; I did, literally. Yes, I consider the Packers a rival (a nice yet completely disingenuous way of saying I am a hater. But, knowing that I'm a 49er fan, if you followed the NFL in the mid-to-late 1990s, you should know why I don't harbour warm fuzzy feelings for the Packers. And if you don't know, you'll just have to look it up; I make it a point to avoid recounting painful memories.) So what to make of their loss? Are the Packers *now* suddenly vulnerable? Will teams dissect the Chiefs gameplan and find the crack in the Cheesehead armour? Who knows. Doubtful at best. Not that I think they're a lock to repeat. I personally can't trust that a team whose defense is as porous as the Packers' has an easy or direct path to the Lombardi Trophy...But what a win for the Chiefs and their newly-installed interim head coach. Imagine, your team is riding a 6-game losing streak, you get suddenly installed as the new head coach, and your first task is to prepare for a 13-0 team in under a week. Talk about defying the odds.

* The Indianapolis Colts win! Off with paper bags! So, in the past 5 or so years, we've had two teams with a real shot to run the 19-0 table (Packers and New England Patriots), and two teams seriously threaten to go 0-fer (Detroit Lions "succeeded" where the Colts "failed"). Remind me: isn't this supposed to be the era of parity?

* I'm not sure what to make of the 49ers man-handling of the Steelers on Monday night. It certainly was impressive on the scoreboard, but Pittsburgh did out-gain them in yardage, and it would've been a much different game were it not for two early interceptions deep in 49er territory. But they played more than well enough to beat a very good team handily, particularly after they came out of the locker room in the second half. Alex Smith especially; he was throwing every which way but accurate to wide open receivers in the first half, then was suddenly dead-eye on-target in the second half. If he was able to hit the side of the barn in the first 2 quarters, the game might've been over at halftime. So, again, what to make of the 49ers win? I dunno. It was certainly nice to see them get over their season-long allergy to the end-zone. They did much better in that regard in 30 minutes against a good Steeler defense than they did in 60 against the Cardinals. (Speaking of which, that game, in a word: yuck).

* Shouldn't the Giants display some New York/New Jersey camaraderie and just fall down on Saturday so that at least one Jersey A/B team has a shot at the playoffs? Give the NYC area something to look forward to in January? C'mon Giants, show your NY pride!......OK, I'm just poking fun at my Jersey/A fans here. Every year their team ruins Christmas (shopping) for them. Poor things.

Switching sports...

* Chris Paul says NBA teams will now be gunning for the new-look Los Angeles Clippers. Mars to CP3: "gunning" is reserved for defending champions and good-but-despised teams. No one is "gunning" for you, because you have no status or notoriety that a team can obtain by defeating you. Teams will certainly be *gearing* up for you, knowing that you're no longer a pushover, and that they need to be on their A-game to keep "Lob City" from giving the scoreboard operator a repetitive-stress injury. But that is vastly, vastly different than "gunning" for you.

* DeAndre Jordan -- one of CP3's Lob City targets -- is really a monster. I'll be very interested to see how good he becomes. And enjoy the rim-abusing highlights along the way. (Incidentally, I can say all this freely, without looking longingly at what-could-have-been, only because of the Knicks' signing of Tyson Chandler. I cringe at the thought of how much wailing I might've subjected myself to had the Knicks not filled their doughnut hole this offseason. Welcome Tyson, welcome.)

* With his unique God-given natural footwork and body movement, I can foresee Blake Griffin benefiting from one of those summer-camp low-post sessions with Hakeem Olajuwon. As much as Kobe did, and probably way more so than LeBron, who, for all his gifts, doesn't seem quite as naturally fluid as the other aforementioned players. (Sidebar: do players pay Hakeem for his time? And if so, how much? Or is this Hakeem's generous give-back to the game of basketball? You'd have to imagine he'd get some kind of reimbursement for his time and effort, though I've yet to hear or read anything specific on this. I'm just curious). Anyways, I'm likely jumping the gun a little -- Wicked Blake probably should take a few years in the league to grow and become acclimated to everything going on in the paint before focusing a whole summer on that aspect -- but I can foresee the second coming of the "Dream Shake" with this kid. (The Blake Shake? Hmm ok, forget I said that...unless of course people actually start using it, at which point I maintain all rights, ownership and pride therein).

* Silly, dumb notion from ESPN's Larry Coon that the "Derrick Rose Rule" should be re-nicknamed after Kevin Durant, since he is now the first player to benefit from it. What's next, renaming the Larry O'Brien trophy the "Boston Celtic Championship Award" because they've won it the most? The rules are nicknamed for the players whose unique circumstances first made people realize the rule was needed. Allan Houston's overblown contract made people want to give teams a do-over on bad contracts. Derrick Rose made people want to reward young rookie-contract franchise players. It is much more telling and interesting from a historical perspective to remember that the Knicks languished for years under the weight of Houston's contract than it is to recall the minor benefits that San Antonio got from amnestying Michael Finley. It is equally more interesting to know that Derrick Rose was sorely underpaid given all his talent and contributions because of his rookie contract than it is to know that Kevin Durant is duly compensated. The nicknames are completely apropos. The season's about to start Mr. Coon; couldn't you have found something even remotely valid to write to waste our time reading about? If you were looking for a clever way to discuss Durant's extension...that wasn't it.

Maybe one day sports publications will create an amnesty provision for weak sportswriters...

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