Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Tale of Two Stars

Everyone knows who the top two players in the league are, right? Obviously, Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby are the top players, in whatever order. I am writing this to prove that statement is false. Sure, these guys are premier players but they are far too overrated.

Let's talk about Alex Ovechkin first. Ovechkin does lead the league in goals, with 44. He is second in points, only behind the Penguins Evgeni Malkin. Ovechkin is a dirty player who throws cheap shots with surprising regularity. I agree with Sid the Kid when I say the Ovechkin goes into the boards with the intention to injure. He leaves his feet on most every check but the refs would never call charging on Alex "the Great".

Earlier in the week, I heard the Flyers play-by-play man Jim Jackson say the Ovechkin has shot the puck 100 more times than any other player in the NHL. That got me thinking. Well, first I thought that Ovechkin must hog the puck so much that his teammates can't stand it. Then I thought: "How much percent of those shots actually cross the goal line." So I calculated the answer at 11%. Let me compare him to several other prominent players. Mike Richards scoring percentage is 14%. Crosby's is 13%. The second leading goal scorer, Jeff Carter, is at 14%.

You may think that three or four percent difference is nothing. But when you're talking about hundreds of shots, it makes a big difference. As you can see, Ovechkin is not as efficient as other top-tier players, even though he has scored eight more goals than anyone in the NHL. Maybe Ovechkin should look for an open teammate instead of shooting every time he gets the puck.

Sidney Crosby is much more of a playmaker than Alex. He also yaps a lot more than Ovechkin (to put it politely). Crosby is always complaining to the referees about every little thing. He craves the attention. I don't even believe he is the best player on his own team. Evgeni Malkin plays more physical than Crosby, and he is much better at controlling the puck.

One player who I believe means more to his team than either of these guys is Mike Richards. Richards is a guy who doesn't always get mentioned as one of the best players. He is the captain of the Flyers, and his leadership abilities on the ice are evident. He is a good body checker but he does it cleanly (not cowardly, like Ovechkin). He will talk but only when it is appropriate. Richards will make any play he has to to win the game. He will just as easily score a goal as he will set up a teammate. He, alone, creates so many scoring chances for his team. He will also stand up for his teammates and himself when the time comes. He is the real star.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Eagle Rumors

Donovan McNabb is at it again. If you haven't already heard, the Eagles apparently (remember this is all rumor) had a meeting with their franchise quarterback. In that meeting, the organization and McNabb were supposed to work out a contract extension. McNabb still has two years on his current deal. Donovan apparently told the Eagles that they need to obtain more "weapons" for McNabb to sign with them.

By weapons, one would assume McNabb means T.J. Housmandzadeh, Anquan Boldin, or Tony Gonzalez. I don't know what McNabb thinks he is doing by issuing an ultimatum on Eagles management. He acting like they NEED to resign him. He's still got two years on his contract. Why should they do what he says? They have the power over him.

That does not mean I don't want the Eagles to sign a premier offensive weapon. They have enough money under the cap to sign a big name player. Recently, Marvin Harrison has been mentioned as a guy the Eagles should be interested in. They shouldn't sign Harrison. He is no longer a number one receiver. He would be a nice guy to have, but I would like to see somebody with more quality years left in their career.

Meanwhile, the Eagles haven't said anything about what they might or might not do in free agency. The Eagles are always like this. They will keep a poker face up until the point of action. You will not hear anything from them until something definite occurs.

What baffles me the most is that people are surprised by this. Doesn't McNabb do this every offseason? Whether he says it directly, in his blog, or we hear it from his mom, this topic comes up quite a bit with McNabb. He is trying to act like he has a say in what the team does. He doesn't have that power, and even the Eagles are smart enough to know that.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Take it With a Grain of Salt

Alex Rodriguez made an official apology today while doing an interview with ESPN's Peter Gammons. I listened to most of the interview, and I thought it was pretty sincere. Then my common sense kicked in and told me there was no way in the world it was sincere. A-Rod is not sorry he used steroids, he is sorry he got caught for using them. There is a big difference.

Rodriguez said that it was "stupid" and "selfish" for him to use performance-enhancers. But then, at the same time, he tried to make excuses for using them. He said he just wanted to keep up and fill in the expectations of his Mega contract. He said he only used them in the 2001, '02, and '03 seasons. Sounds a little fishy.

Was it just a coincidence that he said he used them only in the three years before the MLB put the ban on them? He also said that he has great respect for the game. You don't have respect for the game if you cheat the game. Period. He also, during the interview, called himself one of the greatest players in the history of the game. Can anybody honestly call a cheater one of the greatest. I don't care if he used steroids for three years or three seconds, he shouldn't be calling himself that right now.

A-Rod has also publicly said that he never used performance-enhancers in the past. He only apologized because he was caught. Don't you think for a minute that A-Rod would have said anything about it had this information not come into the public eye. So, to all you who think that A-Rod is really sorry, I advise you to think again.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A-Rod Tested Positive For Steroids

Sports Illustrated has reported that Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez tested positive for anabolic steroids in 2003. Remember that back in 2003, the MLB did not punish players for the use of steroids. Starting in 2004, the league tested for steroids and punished the players they found to be using them. Their is a list of 104 players who tested positive in 2003. Right now, we only know the biggest name on that list: Alex Rodriguez.

Their have been whispers that A-Rod had used steroids, but nothing really definitive came out of it. This is the first legitimate evidence that proves that A-Rod used steroids. With Barry Bonds, it was obvious that he used steroids. But with A-Rod, a player at the top of his game, it wasn't as easy.

The real question everyone thinks of when they hear this story is: Well, does he still use them now? There is no way to know right now but, who knows, this may only be the first bit of evidence that links A-Rod to steroids.

This ruins A-Rod's legacy and his credibility. Everything he does from now will be questioned. He was once thought to be the opposite of Barry Bonds. He was the Clean Barry Bonds! Now, they are riding in the same boat together. The fact that fans thought Bonds was cheating didn't affect his game. I have a feeling it will affect A-Rod's game a lot more.

I hope that this is the last big name to be linked to steroids, but I know it isn't. In fact, it may just be the tip of the ice berg.

Friday, February 6, 2009

It is Time

It is time for the Eagles to go out and get a premium receiver. Many will say that time has long since past, but I think their is still hope. Two such guys may be available to the Eagles this offseason. One guy, T.J. Houshmandzadeh will be a free agent and has openly said that Philadelphia is one of his top choices. The other, Anquan Boldin, clearly wants out of Arizona, the the Eagles may be able to acquire him in a trade.

Let start with T.J. (I going to call him "T.J." because I don't feel like typing that last name every time I mention him). He said on a local radio show that he would be interested in joining the Eagles if the Eagles are interested in adding him. T.J. is 31 and would be a good option for the Eagles if they want to have a couple chances at the Super Bowl with McNabb and him. He has been a very good receiver for a number of years, but has been overshadowed by his more flamboyant (and recently less productive) teammate Chad Johnson.

If you want a long term option (or an After the McNabb Years option), Boldin would be your guy. He is coming off an off year with the Cardinals. Yes, his team did play in the Super Bowl, but he was plagued with injuries and sour contract negotiations. I personally think Boldin is a better receiver than his teammate Larry Fitzgerald. Boldin is better when it comes down to running after the catch. He is tough as nails and only 28 years old.

Now, what do we do to get these guys? I have a plan to get each guy. Boldin would be the hardest to obtain because the Cardinals would be asking a lot for him. The Eagles have two first round picks. Maybe they could package BOTH those picks together with a young player (like one of their young linebackers). They could only use one first rounder to get him, but they would have to give the Cardinals a quality player. I'm thinking Sheldon Brown or Lito Sheppard.

Getting T.J. is a lot easier. First, fork over the dollars (you may even have to use a fork to pry them out of Joe Banner's wallet). Second, let L.J. Smith walk. Smith is injured most of the time, and when he is playing, he is no better (worse, actually much worse) then Brent Celek. Tight ends need to be able to block. L.J. Smith can't block.

Chances are the Eagles aren't going to get either of these guys. But, hey, the Eagles have surprised us before.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Steelers Win Super Bowl

Santonio Holmes Pictures, Images and Photos

The Pittsburgh Steelers have claimed Super Bowl XLIII in fantastic win over the resilient Arizona Cardinals. What a great way to cap the NFL season! Everyone thought this game was going to be a blowout (in favor of the Steelers), but those tough Cardinals proved us wrong.

I know I didn't post my prediction before the game. Their is so much hype revolved around this big game, that I didn't want to have to add more of the same. Also, I kept going back and forth on who I thought would win.

Two receivers starred in this game. Larry Fitzgerald showed up as advertised. In the first half, he wasn't a factor. But in the second half he lead the Cardinals back from the dead with two BIG touchdown passes. The other receiver, Santonio Holmes surprisingly took over the game. His biggest play came at the very end, when he tiptoed in bounds in the touchdown to give his Steelers the victory. He had nine catches for 131 yards. He is your Super Bowl MVP, and he deserves it.

Pittsburgh's defense showed up (also as advertised). Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison returned an interception 100 yards to end the first half with the Steelers winning 17-7. That was a key play that will be overshadowed because of the fantastic finish.

The Cardinals tried to bounce back, but it was too little too late. Fitzgerald had a seven catches for 127 yards and two touchdowns, including a 64-yarder that gave the Cards the lead with two and a half minutes left

Congratulations to the World Champion Steelers!