February 28, 2007


So, you're the Reds. Hi, Reds.

You have a current "logjam" in the outfield. It's early, so don't sweat. I'll break it down nice and easy for you.

The story, from what I hear, is that the outfield has four spots that are locked down. I count three, but you tell me where I go wrong.

1. Dunn
2. Griffey
3. Freel

They want you to think that Conine is #4, and that could be true. I'd rather not see it. I'd rather see that man get STRICT platooning at first base, relieving Hatteberg (or Votto) only when necessary. I've got nothing against the man, we just don't need him around all that much. Making relief appearances at first base should be enough. No need to hog any outfield spots. But, if we're sticking to the script, that's four.

4. Conine

So now, you've got the competition for the fifth spot. It's ultimately between Norris Hopper, Chris Denorfia, Josh Hamilton, and Bubba Crosby. All have been featured with special stories, so let's not cry.

Since Denorfia is a starter for me, he's five.

5. Denorfia

1. Dunn (starts LF)
2. Griffey (starts RF)
3. Freel (relief duty)
4. Conine (???)
5. Denorfia (starts CF)

Now, there is debate amongst Reds folks that the club could go with 6 outfielders. Fair enough, let's give them that option.

6. Norris Hopper

Sorry, Mr. Hamilton. You could make this spot, it's true. You just have a longer way to go. If the Reds take my suggestion and get Conine the heck out of there, you're in. But if not, Hopper is in. I wasn't a Hopper fan last year, but when I looked at him during the offseason, I slapped myself and wondered why. He has been a trooper in the minor leagues, getting better all the team, and truly made the most of his major league call-up last year. He has nothing left to prove, he has done the job. He can do more. He can also pinch hit when he is not in the lineup, something I would be reluctant to give to Hamilton.

Bubba Crosby, sorry kid.

Raiders "interested" in Garcia, Packers "interested" in Moss

Very, shall I say, interesting. You get it? Heck yes, the joke!

I like these "stories," because they can be right or wrong and the people get it right either way. Very wise move. Jeff Garcia to Oakland? I'm assuming that's being fueled by the fact that the Raiders have a penchant for taking veteran QB's. That doesn't mean the cycle ALWAYS keeps going. It could, don't get me wrong. It's just annoying when veteran QB's are out there and so Oakland is always listed as a possibility, just because they've done it quite a few times. That's basically what it comes down to, you don't need any other information, just observe a trend and attribute that trend to be the end result of some event that is currently being looked at. Apparently the Raiders are interested in Carr, Plummer, Huard (not anymore), and every other QB who isn't locked up with their current team. That doesn't mean anything to me. The Raiders could keep grabbing up the veterans, but I am assuming that this is the year they turn that around, getting a fresh face and having the new guy and Walter be the tag-team combo of the future.

The other story is similar, but seems to have more merit. On the Packers side, anyway. Hard to tell with the Oakland side. I don't really care. I've said before, I was so excited when the Raiders got Moss and now I couldn't care less. At least I can make up my mind if he were go to the Packers, then I could hate him for sure. Otherwise, I'll continue to be indifferent towards him. The Packers are trying to make a triangle out of the Raiders-Buccanneers connection. All this trading players between teams is getting quite ridiculous.

Devils 1, Penguins 0

No way, man. Another shutout? Not that hard for Brodeur these days. He's got 12. The next guy has about half of that. Three more of where those are coming from, and you've got the new 2nd-most shutouts by a goalie, which would be Brodeur with 95. But did you think it would occur in this game? Did you think it would happen in any game against the Penguins? The mighty, high-flying Penguins? No sir. But it did happen. The Devils only scored once, and if that's all you were told before looking at the recap, you would fear the worst. But then you would see that Brodeur shut them out and you would have a quizzical look on your face for a bit, and then accept it. For Brodeur does unthinkable, great things all the time. And this is one of them.

The goaltending wasn't the only impressive feat defensively for the Devils, as you can clearly tell that nobody from the Penguins scored. That would be no scoring for Crosby and no scoring for Malkin, who both score all the time. Their point streaks were snapped last night, thanks to their shots being stopped, but thanks to shots not being there in the first place. Great defensive work to shut them down last night. Crosby, Malkin, and Gonchar were on the ice all the time, and the Devils countered by giving heavy minutes to Madden, Lukowich, Pandolfo, and Martin. And those guys were pretty dang impressive, showing some grit I hadn't seen for a while. This newfound attitude would serve them well if they were to continue it.

The offense is not quite as cool, obviously. A lot of that has to do with Gionta being out. Because, right now, the first line does pretty much nothing pointwise. They get their open ice showcase stuff done, but it's not tangible, it's not practical, it's not reaping rewards. The second line continues to be the best, and Langenbrunner with the only goal, proves it again. A Power Play goal???? Only Langs, man. Only him.

Lots of penalties, but it didn't feel like a sloppy game. Felt GOOD. Dang good.

Also, David Hale was traded to the Flames for a 3rd-rounder. A 5th-rounder was given up. Not a big deal, I thought Hale was just fine, but wasn't a huge fan. Apparently, the important thing is this clears up room for Matvichuk to make his return to the ice. (UPDATE = More importantly, this appears to be making room for Andy Greene, as Lou said it himself.)

Mavericks 91, Wolves 65

The score would appear to give you the indication of being a grinder, but that's not really what it was. Maybe for the Wolves, but it was just another day at the office for the Mavs. Winning by almost 30. Winning 13 straight games again. Just winning, really. That's what they are used to. The Wolves have fallen off the map since the All-Star Game, and that's to be expected. Stopped following that team a long time ago, although I think I'm undefeated in times I've seen them in person. I've never seen Dallas at Minnesota, however. That would be pretty fun. Anyway.

Nowitzki was the man, scoring 23 and snagging 14 boards. That's plenty good stats, my friend. Howard contributed 17 points and 7 boards, even though he's playing on a funny ankle. The man is becoming a beast. Jason Terry rounds out the usual Big 3 with 18 points and 7 assists. Other notables are Diop, who snagged 10 rebounds and also scored 6 points. That's the same as Dampier, with 6 more rebounds. Dampier is becoming obselete again. He had a stretch, what, in mid-December maybe, of being pretty dang good for a while. Forget that, he's totally inconsistent, being pretty lame over quite a long stretch now. For the Wolves, it was Garnett and Ricky Davis with 15 a piece. Lame.

Here's some thing to keep in mind: 65 points is the fewest allowed in Mavs history. Not losing in a month (granted, it's the shortest one) hasn't happened until now in Mavs history. The Mavs are 11-0 in the second game of a back-to-back, whereas most teams (even the great ones) are around average.

What more can you ask? An NBA Championship, perhaps? Sure.