Turkey Time: A Hodge-Podge of Sports Fodder for the Hungry Sports Fan

Will NortonCorrespondent INovember 20, 2008

Sometimes there’s so much going on in the world of sports, you just can’t write about one game, one team, or even one sport. You have to attack it all, with a whimsical, dart throwing philosophy.

Although baseball is my true love, I always enjoy the sporting season right before Thanksgiving. Baseball is in free agent frenzy, with the winner of the previous season a distant memory and the prospects for next spring front and center. What big stars will relocate, what teams will make big splashes, what will the winter meetings bring?

Meanwhile, the NBA and NHL are just reaching the quarter mark of their respective regular seasons, and with that comes a certain level of retrospective analysis; what teams look loaded, what teams are on the fringe, and what teams are already talking about next year’s projected draft stars?

And, of course, what would the pre-Thanksgiving sports season be without the mother of all talking points, the Hurricane Katrina of the athletic landscape: the BCS.

Ah yes, college football; the one sport that leaves me thirsting for a system that actually gives the average fan some semblance of closure at season’s end. No seriously though, Obama said it himself; cut the crap, let’s get a playoff system in place already.

And with that, I give you my hodge-podge sports rundown…

1.  Here’s to rooting for Oklahoma and Florida from here on out. Why? Well, if OU beats Texas Tech this Saturday, and UF triumphs over ‘Bama in the SEC title game, then all BCS haters will have the perfect storm brewing.


Just dream with me here for a second. If OU and UF win those two games, then the college football landscape will have six one-loss teams (count ‘em, six!) with a legitimate claim to the BCS title game: Alabama, Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, USC, and Florida.


How would the BCS possibly sort that out? Well, it would probably have to look at the quality of the loss for each team. Except in this case Florida, who would be coming off a victory against then-No. 1 Alabama in the SEC title game, has the worst loss of the six, a home defeat at the hands of now 6-4 Ole Miss. Texas lost to Tech, OU lost to Texas, and assuming my dream comes true, Tech will have lost to Stoops’ boys. How does that Big XII quagmire sort itself out?


And then you still have USC, whose only loss came on the road against a formidable Oregon State team, as well as Alabama, who prior to losing to UF on the last game of the season, would have been No. 1 in the BCS for 5 weeks.


So if you hate the BCS like I do, you gotta sing some “Boomer Sooner” and do the Gator chomp. If those two pivotal games play out like I described and none of the other teams suffer any hiccups along the way, the BCS will have a mess on its hands that will surely end its tyrannical reign of terror on the college football season.


2.  Cheers to Dustin Pedroia, the shortest MVP ever. As a Red Sox fan, I simply can’t believe that man has a AL Rookie of the Year and AL MVP in his trophy case after two seasons. Truly remarkable.


In a wide-open field, the mighty mouse (or “Little Pony,” if you love Chip Caray) of the American League claimed what can only be described as sweet justice for all short athletes out there.


While any rational sports fan could make the argument that Dusty wasn’t even the MVP on his own team (see Youkilis, Kevin), he certainly earned the award with a balanced game, Gold Glove defense, and a supernatural August (.374/.425/.635 with 6HRs, 20RBI, 33R, 5SB, 43H, and just 9 strikeouts).


3.  A quick Kelvin Sampson check-up: good to see you’re in Milwaukee eating stale cheese assisting Scott Skiles and the last-place Bucks, Kelvin! You just have to love the perseverance of some people...


Call recruits illegally and get caught once, shame on me. Call recruits illegally and get caught twice at my next job, shame on…me?


4.  Are the Boston Bruins the best team in the Eastern Conference? Did I really just type that sentence?


The B’s are 10-1-1 in their last 12 games and are simply scorching. Muchos kudos go out to Claude Julien, Tim Thomas, and the development of the young kids, mainly Phil Kessel, Milan Lucic, and David Krejci.


Julien has them believing in a defensive-minded system, Thomas supports said system by playing out his mind in net, and Kessel and Lucic have teamed up with Marc Savard to form one of the most aggressive, potent first lines in the East.


I have always felt that hockey (like many sports) hinges greatly on the health of your club. One injury can force multiple lines to be shifted around, which puts players out of their comfort zones and ruins their routine.


It’s like the bullpen in baseball; if the closer goes down, everyone has to move up a slot in terms of inning responsibility, something that can make a normally reliable seventh-inning man a terrible eighth-inning man, and so forth.


So here’s hoping the suddenly red-hot Bruins stay healthy and keep clicking.


5.  Congrats to Mike Mussina for knowing when to hang ‘em up. Brett Favre and Michael Jordan: take some notes.


Stuck on a season-high 19 wins for much of his Hall of Fame career, The Moose finally notched 20 in 2008 (one of his most overlooked campaigns) and hung the Moose antlers up for good. Good for him. 270 wins and an extremely durable resume should be enough to put the Stanford grad in the Hall.


6.  If you’re a T-Wolves fan, do you boo, cheer, or just cry when The Big Ticket returns Friday night in Celtics green?


7.  Hard to believe that Patriots-Dolphins would be such a huge Week 12 matchup, eh?


Make no mistake though, in terms of playoff implications, this is the biggest game across the league this week (unless you believe either of the 5-5 Saints/Packers matter).


8.  From a Boston-based perspective, I love the Coco Crisp deal in oh so many ways. Crisp was unhappy as a fourth outfielder (as he should have been), the Red Sox needed relief pitching badly, and Crisp was due $5.75 million in 2007. Ramirez had a 1:1 strikeout to inning ratio in 2008 and gave up just two home runs, and the move allows the Sox to transition Justin Masterson into the rotation without losing anything in the ‘pen.


My only question mark is whether Ramirez will be as good in ’09 in pressure-packed Fenway as he was in the silence of Kauffman Stadium in ‘08. Was 2008 a reasonable expectation moving forward for him, or was it an aberration? We all know how fluky and volatile relief pitching is from year to year.


But regardless, Crisp wasn’t in the 2009 big-picture, and the Sox swung him for a 27-year-old power arm with strikeout stuff. That’s good enough for this guy.


9.  Davidson v. Oklahoma in Norman this last past Tuesday was a Final 4 quality game with two sure-thing first team All-Americans on the floor. Consider yourself lucky if you stayed up and watched that baby.


Steph Curry may have to prove himself at the NBA level, but he’s a dominant shooter at the college level. So was JJ Redick though, right? Blake Griffin dropped one of the more physically imposing 25-point, 21-rebound performances in recent memory.


10. And finally, with Turkey Day a week away, here’s hoping Hank Steinbrenner becomes as gluttonous and greedy as me at the Thanksgiving Day dinner table. Six helpings of Sabathia? Load it on! A few more buttered rolls of AJ Burnett for $15 million a year? I ain’t scared! Derek Lowe slathered on top of it all? Sure, why not?


Go ahead Hank, spend away. This is America, after all….


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