Sunday, May 24, 2009

Checking Out Clint Smith Style

I have not yet shuffled off this mortal coil, but I am indeed close. My normal Rangers hibernation is interrupted by the occasional email from Dave Pucks borderline begging me to contribute SOMETHING to this blog. I am affraid this will be near difficult if not impossible for me. I am a creature of habit, and one that spends the entire rangers season thinking about games, bad line changes, and soft goals. I replay games in my head, I change the outcomes and create fantasy situations where the fans of other teams are crying in the stands at the mere sight of the 4 time defending Stanley Cup Rangers as they make run for an unprecedented (in the last 40 years anyway), 5th straight cup run. But when that final goal is scored, the buzzer sounds, and the season is am I. The energy is spent, and it is baseball time. Baseball is the one sport I devote endless amounts of wasted energy to 24/7/365. So while I love the Rangers, this is offseason, and I honestly could not care less about anything related to Hockey. So while I am not quite as gone as Clint Smith at this point, just consider me in the same light. I might occasionally drop in with a blog to haunt our followers with sweet memories of our past encounters, but for all intensive purposes my regular blogging is dead.

As for the anyone still watching? I catch 5 minutes here or there, and in those 5 minutes, here is what I caught. Us eastern conference fans really just wasted a season with our heads up our asses didn't we? Going into this season, if someone asked me, "Who is going to win the cup?" I would have said, "Rangers baby!" and then thrown down another beer and started looking for my pants and car keys. Now if that same person had put the gun to my head and said, "Ok, your life is on the line, who is in the Stanley Cup Finals this year?" I would have said, "Detroit and Penguins...and I have very little doubt". This is the unfortunate nature of the NBA, NHL, and sometimes football. The winners are almost always predetermined. Being the best team all but guarantees you a LATE postseason run, if not a title. Where as a sport like baseball, being the best team often means...absolutely nothing. The reason for this? Because the more physical a game gets, the more a team is simply able to physically impose their will on another team, almost always guaranteeing the larger, stronger team a championship run/victory. Now I know what your saying, what is more physical then football, shouldn't the best football team win every years? The ONLY reason football gets a pass here...because it is a best of ONE. In one game, anything can happen (though upsets are still very rare, and usually are more a result of poor analysis and projection from vegas odds guys and number crunchers that never really watched the teams play). The perfect example of this was the Giants "upset" of the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 42.

Was it an upset? Yes. The giants beat them, barely, in that one game. But had they taken on a MLB, NHL, or NBA best of 7? There is little to no chance in my mind the Giants beat the Patriots 4 times in 7 games. They probably go 2 and 5 in 7 games, and are very competitive in 4-5 of them. The 1969 Jets beat the Colts right? If those two teams played in a best of 7, the Colts would probably win the next 6 games, or at least 5 of them. And then you look at a team like the Giants, it was such a big "upset" because they were two touchdown underdogs. But should they have been? They went on the road and dominated the top defense in the NFL in terms of Points per game allowed (Tampa Bay), they then went on the road and beat the # 1 seed Dallas Cowboys, they then went on the road to the near impossible to win Green Bay, and physically dominated the #2 seed the entire game. While they were doing this, the Patriots were playing two home games and barely getting by an incredibly inexperienced Jacksonville team that had a very weak QB, and a San Diego team without their top THREE offensive performers. The Giants were the most physical team, with the better running game, and better defense against a high powered offense that hadn't really been tested (sound a bit like Super Bowl 25 to anyone?). Not to mention the teams had just played a month prior, BEFORE the Giants got hot, and the Giants 3. I would have had the giants underdogs, but by 6 or 7 points, a touchdown max. Anything more than that was just a bad read by the "experts" and created an "incredible upset" out of something that realisitically should have been a 1 in 3 chance of happening. Now, because of this one and done, like I said, the NFL can get the occasional upset, but how does it play out over the long haul? Barring EXTREME injuries (to a tom brady, or basically any QB), almost any knowledgeable fan can probably accurately predict 8 of the 12 playoff teams with relative ease before the season starts, and can probably guess another two, with a fluke team that had an easy schedule and quick development from some young players rounding out the field on each side.

Anyway, in basketball, it's a joke. The 1 and 2 seed are in the conference finals almost every year. This year we had an UPSET in the east, as the 1 plays the.....3 seed. (And that's only because the 2 seed lost maybe the best defensive player in the conference, otherwise it would be another 1-2 matchup). At the beginning of the year in the NBA, if asked who was going to be in the finals you would say what? Lakers vs. Celtics half the time, the other half the time, Lakers vs. Cavs (which it will end up being). With probably an equal number of people selecting the Lakers or Cavs to win it all. The upset is incredibly unlikely in a 7 game series in a physical sport, it is usually rare, and in the case of these penguins, it's just a matter of seeding.

The penguins first two months were complete garbage. They had coaching issues, they had an injured and mentally out of it goalie, they were adjusting to new even younger line combo's with the loss of hossa, and they found themselves in 12th place in the east. But the last 4 months, who was better in the east? The penguins ended up as the 4 seed, and didn't get a lot of hype for the seasons the Bruins and Caps had, but the penguins were prob the best team still. And hear it is, 10 months after the rangers were in camp skating, preparing for their trip to Prague, preparing to con me into thinking Naslund could do enough to replace jagr, preparing to make me think Wade Redden was the answer to our blue line, preparing to make me think Doobie was in for a breakout year and Zherdev would be a 40 goal scorer in the trade of the offseason......and it's going to be Detroit vs. Pittsburgh.

Unless Chicago pulls an upset.

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