Who cares that I know almost nothing about hockey? There’s something about the playoffs for anything that make you really excited. For instance look no further than the World’s biggest sports spectacle, The World Cup. Every four years Americans dedicate a month and a half to live, breath, and speak only about their country’s fifth most popular sport. It’s not because everyone loves soccer, or even that we have a decent shot at winning. The reason we as sports fans choose to pledge our allegiance to the USMNT is because no matter what the odds are, we are in the post-season, where anything can happen. Last year the 8th seeded L.A. Kings won it all. In ’04 the Red Sox came back from 0-3 against the Yankees to win the ALCS, and also the World Series. It’s these moments that make the playoffs of any sport more exciting.
Coming into this match-up, all I could think of was a couple of years ago when the Sedin brothers demolished us. However, that thought quickly left my mind as I saw the demolition that we showed in Vancouver. The Sharks, led by Thornton and Couture have looked, at times, like one of the best teams in the NHL. When you watch them play you don’t say “they are the most talented team” or “man, they definitely are the odds on favorite… But who cares?! When the Giants and David Tyree made a miraculous comeback to stop the Patriots from going 19-0 were people talking about the talent level on their team? Or when the A’s made the playoffs last year coming out of the AL West, did the Baseball world say that they made it based on the number of guys with big contracts? No – The Sharks aren’t the best team in the league, but they do have that Gritty factor to them. They either could of gotten bounced in the first round, or win the Stanley Cup. Nobody knows and that’s what makes it so exciting!
Tonight we’ve got an opportunity to sweep, and more importantly, rest our legs before we face the Blues/Wings. It’s going to be a long March, but isn’t that what it’s all about?
There’s a phrase in sports, “defense wins championships”. Until two years ago I thought that was total garbage. If a competition is judged by how many points you get, then you better be scoring a lot of points. Even the last few championships in major sports show how important it is to have a high powered offense by setting runs, points and yards records. However, when the Giants won the 2010 World Series against the Texas Rangers, I knew that whomever wrote that was a genius.
On the last day of the regular season, the Giants pitched their way into the playoffs. With nobody expecting them to get by Derek Lowe and the Braves, they used their defensive prowess to upend the Braves in 4 including a clinic put on by Tim Lincecum with 14 strikeouts in a 1-0 victory over Lowe. They marched through the Phillies with stellar pitching, and the most complete rotation + relief in the past 20 years. Finally, finishing up the Rangers in 5 (with some help from Cody Ross) to hoist the commissioner’s trophy, and bring the city of San Francisco it’s first baseball championship ever.
Now, combine that pitching staff (minus a true closer) with a team batting average that is .29 points higher than 2010 (.252:.281) and you get the hottest team in baseball, winners of 10 of their last 11. Not to mention since the all-star break, these same Giants have gone 50-22.
What should we attribute this to? Buster Posey for MVP? Maybe. Lincecum and Cain getting hot at the right time? Sure. Taking a closer look at the roster though, the real reason jumps out. While teams like the Dodgers and Angles traded an arm and a leg for big names (that got nowhere), the Giants have kept it behind the scenes grabbing Scutaro (batting .361) and Pence (2nd on team in HRs and RBIs). These are the deals that win championships.
The next two weeks should be fun to watch. The race between the Giants, Reds, and Nationals will be a barn burner for first place in the National League, and with the NL winning the All Star Game this year, the ever important home field advantage is still up for grabs. Let’s see if the future MVP Buster Posey will be able to guide his team to the top!
Tonight is the night. The moment we’ve all been waiting for, UFC 152! Which surprisingly comes right after UFC 150. The mix martial arts world was turned upside down last month, when UFC president Dana White was forced to cancel a card for the first time in the history of this professional sport. Although a lot of the blame lands on Jones, who backed out of a potential fight with 8 days notice, many confused eyes rest on White who couldn’t pull off the card considering the other fights should have been undercard at best (For some reason I feel Ellenberger is past his prime; and I think Kampmann’s knee a couple months ago would agree).
But I digress.
Tonight, Jon Jones will put on another clinic showing the rest of the MMA world that the young guns coming up are actual Mixed Martial Artists, not just wrestlers that can box, or kick boxers that can secure a triangle choke. It strikes me as crazy that Jones will go down as one of the best fighters in the history of the sport considering how unpolished he looks in some of his fights. However, the guys coming into the sport in the next 5-10 years will be on the same playing field and we will see the evolution MMA in the next generation.
With that being said, the most exciting fight of the night will have to be Brian Stann vs. Michael Bisping. Stann is definitely one of my favorite fighters, considering his back story, and tonight he’ll get his first real test of 2012 fighting the king of gatekeepers, Bisping. We’ll see what the flow of the fight holds, but if Bisping tries to stand with Stann, he better get ready for a whooping, as Stann can throw with the best of them. ∞
Lions @ 49ers
Is anyone else tired of hearing about “the handshake”? It’s a bit ridiculous that two of the top teams in the NFC are going head to head on Sunday Night Football, and all the announcers talked about was Jim Harbaugh showing his enthusiasm for starting the season 6-0 en route to his NFL Coach of the Year award, albeit in his rookie season. So let’s get over that and get down to the real deal.
It’s hard to miss that the ‘9ers are a top 3 in football this year, with the exception being the Texans and the Ravens. I’m excited to see what the Texans can showcase when they’re not facing the Jaguars or the Dolphins, (although Tannehill and Gabbert are future hall-of-famers) I think they need to prove themselves a bit more. I’m also always frightened to see that Ravens defense, and it doesn’t help that Jimmy’s big bro is on the other sidelines.
Let’s face it though, San Fran is the best team in the NFC by far. They have the sickest run defense in the game, even when they only keep 5 in the box. Basically this allows them to roam their safeties over top every play and just ball hawk anyone that tries to throw it deep. Next Sunday watch any throw that goes over 20 yards, and you’ll see THREE defenders there to make the tackle and pop the ball out. It’s an insanely sound defense anchored by Justin Smith and Patrick Willis. 4 All pros and 7 pro bowlers, last year alone, make it pretty easy to compete in every game. Throw in 8 first round picks on the offensive side of the ball, and the best hands receiver of all time (crabtree) and you’ve got the formula for a championship…. Did I mention we also have the best kicker in the game?
Look out New England, there’s a new dynasty in town.