Saturday, February 21, 2009

Michael Crabtree Has Fracture, Stock Slipping?

Top-rated WR prospect Michael Crabtree has a stress fracture in his left ankle, according to Interestingly, this was not the reason that he was hesitant to run at the NFL Combine this weekend. His right foot was the one that had been sore at the end of his college season, and the one he was worried about.

Crabtree's fracture was revealed during the medical wringer that draft prospects endure in Indianapolis every year before the draft. ESPN's John Clayton noted that this is not an extremely serious injury, and in fact is similar to the one that Carolina RB Jonathan Stewart had before last year's draft. Stewart ended up going 13th in 2008, and had a great season as the running mate to DeAngelo Williams for the Panthers.

Anyone that got to watch Michael Crabtree during the last two years at Texas Tech knows that this guy is the real deal. Mock drafts consistently have him going in the top five, often to Seattle at the fourth spot, and always as the first wideout off the board. Does this revelation change his draft status? He won't be able to run for teams before the April 25 NFL Draft, but should be ready for training camp. Of course, as a Bears fan, my first thought was a wildly unreasonable one - could Crabtree last 'til our selection now?

Honestly, I doubt it. Even if he slips out of the top five, there is no reason for an Andre Smith-type free fall here. (Smith was listed as 'missing' from the Combine workouts today, and Baylor's own T Jason Smith has all but sealed the deal as the new top offensive lineman this year.)

Crabtree was insanely productive in college. He has all the tools you want in a wide reciever, all the measurables and intangibles. This guy is going to be an NFL monster. If he makes it past Seattle at that fourth spot, I would expect the Bears (and a number of other teams) to make efforts to trade up and snag him. He would be a steal anywhere outside of those top few picks. There's no way he slips past the Raiders, who pick seventh and need a wideout in the worst way. A trade-up would certainly cost the Bears, but getting an elite receiver to play with Devin Hester on the outside might just be worth it. Although I like Percy Harvin a lot, Crabtree is a real blue-chipper, a guy I thought Chicago had no hope of getting until today.

Weekend Watch

Welcome to the weekend watch.

All Weekend

NFL Combine: Its going to be on NFL network as well as other outlets. If you get time flip it on. It's interesting to see what drills they make players perform as well as who really shines. You can also follow your favorite college players. I know this is what Fodor will be doing.


Nuggets at Bulls 8 ET

First time to get to see the new look Bulls! Well assuming that all the players that all the players that were dealt pass their physicals in time. If not the Bulls could be playing with something like 8 or 9 players. Should be interesting. (Aaron Grey - nice armpits, dude! Didn't know you could dunk.)


College Basketball 11 ET - ?

College Gameday will be at Texas today hyping up the big Oklahoma Texas. The morning game I will probably turn on is Steph Curry and Davidson against number 22 Butler. Like last week I will probably just watch whatever game comes on

Indiana at Purdue: 2 ET

The Hooisers looked very solid in the first half against Wisconsin. It's a shame they couldn't even come close to replicating it in the second half. I am not that worried about the lack of in-game adjustments by Crean blaming it more on lack of talent. Others have already started raising concerns over this. I would like to see the Hoosiers play one complete game and hopefully that is today at Purdue. I doubt it will happen.

Who I want to win: Hoosiers
Who I think will win: Purdue

(Quick tangent about Purdue. They were one of my pre-season final four teams. I continue to think they are good but every time I picked them three times in my streak for cash, they lose (Blowing streaks of 7 and 6 at different times) I put $10 on them and the under at Illinois, they lost. Finally i decided to pick against them for my streak when they played MSU, they won. Just more reasons for me to hate Purdue)

Chicago Blackhawks at Dalls Stars: 3 ET

Good news for Hawks fans outside of Chicagoland, this game will be on WGN. Good news for me because I get WGNHD but not Comcast Sports Net HD. Hawks walloped them last time so we can hope for a repeat. It feels like the Hawks have been on the road forever. If we can come off this new road trip with a couple of wins I'd be happy.

Who I want to win: Blackhawks
Who I think will win: Blackhawks

Gymnastics 4ET

I know gymnastics, but hey it's a good way to get your girlfriend, fiance or wife to watch sports. It's some of the worlds best competing so why not turn it on.


Pittsburgh Penguins at Washing Capitals: 11:30 ET

Sid the kid vs the Great 8. The players who were supposed to save the NHL. They have both done a great job, Sid in the finals last year, and AO continually making phenomenal plays. I am ready for the Stanley Cup playoffs to start, but until then i guess this will do.

Who I am cheering for: Penguins
Who I think will win: Capitals

Rugby 5 ET

I know Rugby on TV! On ABC! Amazing! Sure it's USA rugby and they aren't very good. If you have never seen rugby you should enjoy this program. It's highlights from USA's Sevens side. Sevens is a lot more fast paced with a lot more scoring and action. I personally do not enjoy it as much as the full side but I highly recommend anyone.

Academy Awards: 8 ET

I know it's not a sport, but come on it's an event. Hugh Jackman is hosting. I have heard that he has done a phenomenal job when he has hosted the Tony awards. It will also be nice since he's not a comedian he won't be trying too hard to make his jokes work. I think he will do an excellent job, I mean he is Wolverine after all, nothing can hurt him. I do not think there will be too many suprises for who wins the big Awards. The ones that will be up in the air will be best suporting Acctress and best Actor. There is supposed to only be three musical acts so that could make some people happy and other upset.

Who I want to win: Slumdog Millionare
Who I think will win: Slumdog Millionare

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Carmody Cardiac 'Cats Win One, IU Gets Whipped

Well, NU kept its postseason hopes alive by beating Ohio State last night in Evanston. John Shurna hit a fadeaway trey with three seconds left to give the 'Cats a 70-67 win. My mom was at the game, so I got the inside scoop. More details on the Wildcats are pending, as soon as I get around to doing some quality writing. This game was quite a thriller, and it's great to see these 2008-9 versions of the early '00s Cardiac Cats finally win one of their innumerable nailbiters.

Meanwhile, Roomate Paul and I hit Coach's tonight for the second half of the IU vs. Wisconsin game. Down only one at halftime, the Hoosiers went on to absolutely... fold like a cheap Chinese card table... choke like a fat guy at Old Country Buffet... die like a lemming in mating season... pick your metaphor. This second half was sickening. This is just not Indiana's year. And I think Wisconsin may have passed Minnesota in terms of NCAA Bubble Watch, since the Golden Gophers got handled by Michigan tonight.

Currently watching Washington vs. UCLA on Fox Sports Net. My main observation at first blush is that the fans at UCLA games has nothing on an IU crowd. They do the (SO-and so PLAY-er) chant for different guys every possession - we wait until one guy has really earned it. The cheering seems weak and diffuse. Maybe the miking? But on the basketball front, Wazzu has some seriously fast players! I don't know that big man John Brockman is the real deal, but those guards are lightning quick. EDIT: Fine. Brockman is a beast on the boards. I'm impressed.

Anyways, I'll update with more on that NU-OSU game once I watch it in its entirety on DVR. Northwestern is now 14-10 (5-8) . Be forewarned, if they make the NIT, Noffke, I am forcing you to do NIT Pick 'Em against me for a bottle of bourbon.

Pax Sticks Around, Makes Moves at Deadline

After making the 'big' trade with Sacramento that netted Chicago John Salmons and Brad Miller, it looks like Bulls GM John Paxson went ahead and busted a couple more moves earlier today. Thabo Sefalosha went for a future first-rounder from Oklahoma City. We couldn't get DJ White?? Damn. And Larry Hughes and his toxic 12+million dollar contract went to New York (of course, the Knicks would take Hughes), in exchange for which we got stuck with Jerome James, as well as Timmy Thomas and Anthony Roberson.

The best part of all this, in my book, is that Captain Kirk Hinrich is sticking around. Hinrich is nothing but a class act and a leader who can play both guard spots, and I have loved his game since the Kansas Jayhawks days.

In addition, John Salmons could be a great super-sub for the Bulls at wingman (2/3), Miller and Thomas provide veteran offense at the big man spots, and getting rid of Hughes has got to be a plus. Over at Bleacher Report, the superb semi-pro writers also pointed out that holding onto Tyrus is nice, since it would definitely suck to get rid of another big man just before he hits his stride (see: Tyson Chandler, Elton Brand).

On the downside, getting rid of Shaggy Andres Nocioni is definitely sad. In these post-Jordan days, it's hard to say that any Bull is 'iconic.' But Noce was a true character, a part of that too-brief 47-35 playoff run a few years back, and a hard worker. I wish him the best. Also, Drew Gooden earned my respect for his play when healthy, though his rep as injury-prone is definitely deserved. At least we got a funky beard in return for his, with Salmons joining the squad.

Overall, I feel better about this Bulls team after the trade deadline than before. I'm proud of Pax for actually doing something instead of just freezing up. And he held onto the core of Rose, Gordon, Deng, Hinrich, and Tyrus. It looks like Chicago's hopes for a playoff seed and quick exit vs. either Boston or The LeBrons are still intact. Hooray. I think?

Top Chef (Spoiler Alert 02/18/09 Show)

Top Chef Power Rankings

To start off good show tonight. When they were bringing someone back, I was scared senseless that Leah would make it back, she is terrible and did not deserve to be around. I was happy for Jeffery and felt bad for him since he did cook a top meal, but Karla beat him so he was gone. Emeril was a fantastic guest judge. He made good points, represented the city well, but didn’t try to steal the show. I hope they can get him back next year. BAM!

This is one of the toughest Power Rankings I have done. All the contestants are pretty close. Sad day for Fodor now that his horse is out of the race.

1. Stefan: I know he had a bad week and probably cooked worse then Fabio, but he still has the most talent and this show might be the kick in the rear he needed. He is most likely going to pick Fabio to help him in the final which will be a great choice for him and make a very intimidating European team. Also they get along for the most part so Stefan’s attitude would not impede on obtaining the title If he doesn’t land Fabio he would probably choose his crush, Jamie who is another fantastic chef. As I have said before, he is an excellent cook and can get his message across so his sus chefs should be able to produce what he wants
2. Carla: A fantastic showing by her. I was cheering for Jeffery to win, but from what the judges said I didn’t think anyone could beat her dish tonight. I liked her taking the risk with the non-alcoholic drink, but it worked out for her. She continues to gain steam and if she cooked like she did this show again next week then I think she could bring home the title. I see her trying to pick Jamie or Jeffery to help her out. I think either one could help her go for some dishes she wouldn’t normally try and help her with her creativity.
3. Hosea: Low on the rankings again. I still feel that he has the talent to win the title of Top Chef, but his rivalry with Stefan is in his head. I feel his goal is more to beat Stefan then it is to win Top Chef. Looking at the tease for next week it looks like him and Stefan will be butting heads again this episode which could mess him up. For his sake I hope he gets Jeffery to help him. They are good opposites. Jeffery always trying to do too much, with Hosea having the focus to know what he wants. I hope he doesn’t pick Leah cause she’s just bad.

Let me know if you agree or disagree with my power rankings.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Miller, Salmons to Bulls!!

I'm not going to go full bore on this story yet, because nothing has been 100% confirmed, but it looks like the much-rumored Bulls big man deal of the year could net us, no, not Amare or Chris Bosh... hey, how about 32-year old Brad Miller? You might remember Miller from when the Bulls drafted him, then dumped him back in the bad old 90's, or when he flopped with the Olympic team.

I'm not biased because he went to Purdue. Miller has been a multi-skilled center throughout his career. But the rumors have us giving up Noce, Gooden's expiring contract, and Ced Simmons and getting Miller and John Salmons (the sixth man on my NBA2k5 franchise!) in return from Sacramento. Does this help or hurt the Bulls? Analysis will follow confirmation of the trade actually happening. Let me just say that a 32-year old seven footer isn't exactly the building block I was secretly hoping for.

UPDATE: So, it looks like this trade is actually happening. According to ESPN, the specifics are; Bulls get Miller, Salmons. Kings get Gooden, Andres Nocioni, Michael Ruffin, and Cedric Simmons. I went on and was looking at player comparisons for Gooden vs. Miller, and then Salmons, a 6'7" small forward/shooting guard, vs Noce. The main stat that jumped out at me, first off, was Salmons' scoring average.

This year on an awful Kings team, he's playing over 37 minutes a game and averaging 18.4 points. Noce is only averaging ten. Their rebounds are identical, while Salmons gets more assists and shoots a better percentage from both two- and three-point range. Actually, this new Bulls shoots over 41% from deep.

Miller is also known for his range - he's connecting at a 46.5% clip on 20-45 shooting for the season. Though he has scored less than Gooden on the season, the two do have something in common - their injury history! Miller has missed the last six with a bad hip, Drew has missed the last several with a strained groin. Both have also had abdominal muscle problems this year.

So after some consideration, I'm (hesitantly) putting this down as a win for the Bulls. When this team has been good in past seasons, it has been on the back of good three-point shooting from guys like Hinrich and Ben Gordon, and this trade adds two more guys that can provide that instant offense.

But as with any trade, it is very important to keep in mind that success or failure really depends on how team chemistry works out. Losing Andres Nocioni, who has been a Bull since his rookie year, as well as Gooden, who was a captain this season, will certainly affect this locker room. My biggest question is whether Miller and Salmons, coming from a pretty bad Sacramento Kings team, will be able to become positive locker room influences during a potential playoff race. After all, the Bulls are only a few games out of the eighth spot!

MJ Turns 46

In honor of His Airness' 46th birthday (also, Jim Brown is seventy-something today), ESPN gives us this video, which includes three of the five times Jordan dropped 46 on opponents. The picture is from Sports Illustrated, and shows Our Hero down at Chapel Hill, playin' Mrs. Pac-Man. Happy Birthday, Mr. Managing Partner of the Charlotte Bobcats! Many happy returns.

In other news, NU is firmly (13-10) entrenched in NIT territory these days after two heartbreaking losses to Illinois and Michigan (in OT), and IU is debating which of its current scholarship players will have to go next year in order to make room for the six incoming stud freshman (including Capobianco, Jordan Hulls). My vote? Verdell Jones or Matt Roth. Ideally, we'd merge the defense of the former with the shooting of the latter to form one super-soph, then take their weaker halves and send them to Purdue.

Also, it's startin' to sound like Yogi's March Madness might just take place again this year! Mark your calendars, ladies and gentlemen! Last weekend of spring break. Let's rock and roll.

UPDATE: Just wanted to link to this New York Times article, "The No-Stats All-Star" which talks about Shane Battier and the difficulties inherent in tracking the quality of basketball players by the current stats measurement. Really in-depth, intense article. John Hollinger, eat your heart out.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


#7 UEFA Champions League Final: May 21, 2008: Manchester United vs Chelsea: Moscow

Soccer in the top ten? That’s un-American. Well to be fair, I wasn’t in America at the time.

I have always loosely followed Soccer, noting who played in the championship games but that’s about it. I do enjoy World Cup or Euro Cup games, mainly when two countries play each other. But I was over in Europe for a month and everywhere I went I heard about soccer. So a big group of us decided we were going to watch it in a bar and take in the atmosphere.
We were in Florence at the time and were lucky enough to find an English-speaking bar. I know you might say well, they speak English that hardly counts as getting the atmosphere, but the two teams featured in the game were from England so we knew plenty of English people would be descending on the bar.
We got to the bar roughly an hour before the game started; the bar was a two level bar with 3 big projectors broadcasting the game. The entire bottom section was reserved so we staked out some seats on the second level of the bar and quickly ordered a tower of Heineken (roughly 5 liters). By 10 minutes until kickoff there were barely any spaces left.
So the game featured Manchester United Red Devils and Chelsea Blues. These two teams just finished 1 and 2 in the English Premier League. Going into the game I knew who Christian Ronaldo was, one of the top 3 players on the planet, and the goalie was the German national goal keeper. So as you can tell I didn’t know much.
In Moscow it was pouring rain but that didn’t put a damper on all the cool pre-game festivities and traditions of soccer. The game got under way and you could feel the intensity of the game in the bar. The bar was probably about ¾ for Man U. Most of my group and I were in this majority.
Early on in the game, there was a nice pass into the box in which Ronaldo headed in for the first score and the bar erupted. Man U held onto the lead for roughly 20 minutes until Chelsea tied it up. The rest of the game remained tied at 1-1 with each goalie making some fantastic saves in big moments.
The game headed into overtime. They didn’t explain the OT rules on the TV so we weren’t sure how long the extra period would last or if it was sudden death. This just added to the anticipation and excitement as we didn’t know if the game could end at any moment. As this tension kept building the OT ended at the 30 minute mark and all was left was a shootout.
So the Red Devils were allowed to shoot first and each team traded goals their first two attempts. Then Ronaldo stepped up, and as I previously said he is one of the top 3 players in the world. So what happens? He misses. Both teams then go on to hit their next two attempts each. Chelsea now has John Terry, team captain, steps in to attempt their 5th and final shot, they hit this goal and they win the UFEA cup. MISS!!!! Man U is still alive!
Man U steps up, and hits their shot. Chelsea matches. Man U hits again. Chelsea needs this goal to tie, and the German goalie Van der Sar SAVES the shot and wins the title for Manchester United!!! The bar goes nuts!!! I am high fiving and hugging people I don’t even know and can’t understand a word they are saying anyways.
After hanging out in the bar for awhile longer watching and enjoying the celebration, we made our way to the streets where people everywhere are just as ecstatic as we were in the bar.
I now follow soccer a lot more regularly after this experience. I tried to watch as much Euro Cup as I could. Obviously with the time difference and the fact that I work it made it hard to watch. I still try and catch scores and games when I can; I just truly enjoy soccer more now.
If you ever get a chance to watch soccer in Europe I highly recommend it. I hear what I saw is nothing compared to World or Euro Cup where countries play against each other, but this was still an experience of a lifetime.