Thursday, April 19, 2007

My 2007 NBA Playoffs Predictions

YES, i do like the NBA too. Also, just to put this out there; I'm a Dallas Mavericks fan. That's right, the team that won 67 games this season. So, sorry for the bias, but well, with a team this good, it's hard to argue the fact that we're gonna be successful. Let's just hope that the NBA's "second season" is a lot better than the uneventful '06-'07 regular season.
Without further delay, my picks for the 2007 NBA Playoffs::

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
(1) Detroit Pistons over (8) Orlando Magic (4-0)
(2) Cleveland Cavaliers over (7) Washington Wizards (4-0)
(3) Toronto Raptors over (6) New Jersey Nets (4-2)
(5) Chicago Bulls over (4) Miami Heat (4-3)

Western Conference Quarterfinals
(1) Dallas Mavericks over (8) Golden State Warriors (4-2)
(2) Phoenix Suns over (7) Los Angeles Lakers (4-1)
(6) Denver Nuggets over (3) San Antonio Spurs (4-3)
(5) Houston Rockets over (4) Utah Jazz (4-2)

Eastern Conference Semifinals
(1) Detroit Pistons over (5) Chicago Bulls (4-3)
(2) Cleveland Cavaliers over (3) Toronto Raptors (4-2)

Western Conference Semifinals
(1) Dallas Mavericks over (5) Houston Rockets (4-1)
(2) Phoenix Suns over (6) Denver Nuggets (4-2)

Eastern Conference Finals
(1) Detroit Pistons over (2) Cleveland Cavaliers (4-2)

Western Conference Finals
(1) Dallas Mavericks over (2) Phoenix Suns (4-3)

NBA Finals
Dallas Mavericks over Detroit Pistons (4-2)

MVP: Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas

RECAP: My Mavericks complete their bounce back year after the disappointing loss to Miami in last year's final in 6 games. Detroit will definitely put up a good fight in this series, but in the end, it will be Dallas' DEFENSE that saves them here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

I wanted to avoid making this a personal blog, but the events of Monday can be an exception

As the events of Monday, April 16, 2007 unfolded in Blacksburg, Virginia, I couldn't help feeling. I only say "feeling" because the emotion I possessed during the hours of news coverage and climbing number of fatalities could not be expressed in a single emotion. I felt scared. I felt hurt. I felt hopeless. I was not having trouble comprehending what was on the television screen, it was more the utter disbelief and shock in the way it happened. It also brought me back to two other significant events, during which I would convey similar "feelings".

September 11, 2001 is obviously a day that will never fade in the minds of any American. I had a tie to that day because my mother would have perished if she had retained her job at the World Trade Center instead of staying home to raise first me, then my two siblings afterwards. My father, at the time, was a Captain in the NYPD Transit Bureau. He happened to be at a business meeting in Baltimore that week. He probably would have been lost as well, most likely in the collapse of one of the two towers. I felt these same "feelings" that day. It was a sense that the world was crashing down, and that there was nothing I could do. It changed things. It's still changing things.

Two years later, in the Summer of 2003, we experienced a monumental blackout in the Eastern region of the country. Millions completely lost power, with no no warning, and no answers as to why. Still in the wake of 9/11, many assumed terrorism, and I for one, was a part of that camp in the onset. In the end, we all would get our power back, and apparently were not attacked by terrorists afterall, but that feeling was still there. That unexplainable emotion that it was all coming to an end. That sense of hopelessness.

And now, I will reflect on April 16, 2007 with the same sense of "feeling", probably for the rest of my life. It is going to change things. It may have changed me. I know it changed the lives of 25,000 students and members of faculty at Virginia Tech, as well as the families of all the deceased and wounded, all of whom, my thoughts and prayers go out to.

I guess this is more of a summarization for me, as I have not had the opportunity to really take in all that has happened, at least not all at once. It was not too long ago that my friends and I were foolishly discussing our disdain for the University's athletic program, as they had "abandoned" the Big East Conference just a couple years ago for the Atlantic Coast Conference. Now, I look back at that and wouldn't even imagine it. Sadly, it takes tragedy sometimes to really put things into perspective, and this one was no exception. My emotional state did grow worse with the notification of each death, but my scope of what mattered and didn't matter seemed to come into focus at the same time. What if the same horrific events would ever (God forbid) occur on my own campus? What would I do? I still have no idea. I just know that I mourn for these students at Virginia Tech just as I would my own classmates. 

We are one now, and if I could do anything for these families, their friends, the University, I would, because that is all that matters right now. I am praying for those who are dealing with injuries as a result of this catastrophe. My thoughts are with the families, though I know it cannot replace what they have lost, I pray they may find the strength to carry on. I pray for those who tragically passed, hoping for their happiness in an afterlife, as we mourn for the fact that they were removed from this life all too soon. I pray for the friends and acquaitences, as well as the student body of Virignia Tech University. As a junior in high school, we lost a member of our educational community, and more importantly a good person to a sudden and tragic death while school was in session. I remember the hurt, the pain, and the sorrow of myself and those around me. I still cannot begin to imagine your pain, but hope you can find the strength to cope with what has happened. I also pray for the rest of the country, maybe even the world. May we all see these horrific events, and be able to deal with the country and world in their wake. May we all take steps to consider our actions more closely, and to value what we have more dearly.

You all have my thoughts and prayers. I grieve with you and for you. May the victims of these events remain in our hearts and minds, to honor their memory.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions

Now, the theme of this blog wasn't supposed to be all sports, but since sports happens to be on my mind a lot, I might as well go with it. With the end of the NHL season yesterday, the Stanley Cup Playoffs, one of the best postseasons in sports, are starting. Now this years field is extremely intriguing, as there really aren't any "cake walks" persay (except maybe the Buffalo-Islanders series), and you could definitely make a case for any of the 16 teams to make a run. That being said, my picks for the 2006-2007 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
(1) Buffalo Sabres over (8) New York Islanders (4-0)
(2) New Jersey Devils over (7) Tampa Bay Lightning (4-2)
(6) New York Rangers over (3) Altanta Thrashers (4-2)
(5) Pittsburgh Penguins over (4) Ottawa Senators (4-3)

Western Conference Quarterfinals
(1) Detroit Red Wings over (8) Calgary Flames (4-2)
(2) Anaheim Ducks over (7) Minnesota Wild (4-2)
(3) Vancouver Cannucks over (6) Dallas Stars (4-3)
(4) Nashville Predators over (5) San Jose Sharks (4-3)

Eastern Conference Semifinals
(1) Buffalo Sabres over (6) New York Rangers (4-2)
(5) Pittsburgh Penguins over (2) New Jersey Devils (4-3)

Western Conference Semifinals
(1) Detroit Red Wings over (4) Nashville Predators (4-2)
(2) Anaheim Ducks over (3) Vancouver Cannucks (4-2)

Eastern Conference Finals
(1) Buffalo Sabres over (5) Pittsburgh Penguins (4-2)

Western Conference Finals
(2) Anaheim Ducks over (1) Detroit Red Wings (4-3)

Stanley Cup Finals
Buffalo Sabres over Anaheim Ducks (4-2)

Conn Smythe Winner- Ryan Miller, G, Buffalo

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Some thoughts on the NHL

Just sitting around, I happened to be doing some reading on contraction and realignment. First, in MLB, then I ended up reading into the NHL. I had recalled an article that I read in The Sporting News magazine, way back in 2004, before the shameful lockout that probably damaged the credibility and popularity of the NHL forever. The article was trying to find a viable solution to the NHL's problems as far as a diluted talent pool, and a lack of skill on either side of the puck during any given game. As I recall, scoring was at pitiful lows, and attendance was dropping in various markets. I can attritribute this, as did most people at the time, to over-expansion.
To examine the NHL, beginning in 1990:

1990- 21 teams total
San Jose Sharks added (22 teams total)
Ottawa Senators and Tampa Bay Lightning added (24 teams total)
Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and Florida Panthers added (26 teams total)
Nashville Predators added (27 teams total)
Atlanta Thrashers added (28 teams total)
Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild added (30 teams total)

That is a nine-team increase in a matter of one decade. There is no possible way that the talent pool in any sport can simply adjust in that short of a period of time. In 1990, there were enough skilled players to put 21 competitive clubs on the ice. In 2000, I'd say there were enough skilled players to put 24 competitive teams at most on the ice. Today, in 2007, I'd say that there are enough for about 26 teams, 28 if you really wanted to push it.

So, what is the point of all this? Here, I plan on presenting my case for contracting 2 NHL franchises. By looking up different criteria, such as success in the past decade, historical significance, and just all-time success rate, I have come to choose two teams from the current pool of 30. They are the:

Florida Panthers- a team that has a little more than a decade of history, and at that, nothing much to note other than its trip to the Stanley cup against the
Colorado Avalanche in 1996. Besides that, they play in the least historically-significant division in the game- the Southeast- and traded away the centerpiece of their franchise, in goalie Roberto Luongo, last offseason.


Columbus Blue Jackets- Now let's be honest, what was NHL commisioner Gary Bettman thinking when he put a team in COLUMBUS, Ohio?! I mean, if you were even going to put a team in that state, why not Cleveland or Cincinnati? Why even in those locations? What about Hartford, Quebec, and Winnipeg, all cities who long for the return of their respective clubs after relocating in the late 1990s? The Blue Jackets have NEVER compiled more than 80 points in a single season since their inception in 2000, and have failed to be competitve, exciting, or marketable on a national level. Explain to me why this team still exists. Yes, they do have Rick Nash, but ONLY Rick Nash. Hence, why they will spend another season in the basement of the Central Division with their pals, the
Chicago Blackhawks, who only escaped consideration from this list themselves because they are an 'Original Six' franchise, and as a hockey loyalist, or just a hockey fan in general, I cannot bring myself to even consider removing such a team from the NHL.

Now that those two teams can potentially be redistributed throughout the league, what to do with their now 4-team divisions, respectively. I say, reallign the entire NHL, back to the heyday of the late-1980s, early 1990s (I know, not that long ago) when
Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemeiux were regarded as the two greatest players on the planet. Back when the NHL had two divisions in each conference, both of which created very exciting rivalries, and very interesting playoff races come years end. With the two teams I already mentioned gone, you are looking at two, 14-team conferences, both of which could then reallign into two divisions apiece, once again. So, without further adu, the new divisions:

Eastern Conference
Alantic- NY Rangers, NY Islanders, Boston, New Jersey, Washington, Philadelphia, Atlanta
Central- Montreal, Toronto, Buffalo, Carolina, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh
Western Conference
Midwest- Detroit, Nashville, Chicago, St. Louis, Minnesota, Edmonton, Calgary
Pacific- Vancouver, Colorado, Anaheim, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Dallas, San Jose

Well, that's my piece about the NHL. It's not going to see any consideration from the NHL, but hey, that's not why I wrote it. It would be good for the game, and that's what I care about. Maybe Commisioner Bettman will eventually come to the same realization.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

In the spirit of this being opening night for baseball, my predictions for the 2007 season

A.L. East
1. NY Yankees
2. Boston
3. Toronto
4. Baltimore
5. Tampa Bay
A.L. Central
1. Detroit
2. Cleveland
3. Minnesota
4. Chic. White Sox
5. Kansas City
A.L. West
1. LA Angels
2. Texas
3. Oakland
4. Seattle

N.L. East
1. NY Mets
2. Philadelphia
3. Atlanta
4. Florida
5. Washington
N.L. Central
1. Houston
2. St. Louis
3. Chic. Cubs
4. Milwaukee
5. Cincinnati
6. Pittsburgh
N.L. West
1. LA Dodgers
2. Arizona
3. San Francisco
4. San Diego
5. Colorado
WILD CARD: Arizona

DIVISIONALS: NY Yankees over LA Angels, Boston over Detroit
NY Mets over Arizona, LA Dodgers over Houston

CHAMPIONSHIPS: NY Yankees over Boston
NY Mets over LA Dodgers

WORLD SERIES: NY Mets over NY Yankees

MVP- Grady Sizemore, CLE (AL); Lance Berkman, HOU (NL)
CY YOUNG- Johan Santana, MIN (AL); Brandon Webb, ARZ (NL)
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR- Daisuke Matsuzaka, BOS (AL); Chris Young, ARZ (NL)
MANAGER OF THE YEAR- Eric Wedge, CLE (AL); Bob Melvin, ARZ (NL)