Elster's World

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Elster's Back

Sorry for the long delay between posts but there has been a lot of personal stuff going on recently – including searching for, and landing, a new job – which has kept me away from your favorite sports blog. So without further ado, some thoughts from the previous few weeks:

- The NCAA tournament has been a little too chalk for my taste – way too many 1’s and 2’s around, not nearly enough George Masons. It seems to make sense. With high school-ers having to go to school at least a year, the higher end teams look a little deeper this year – widening the talent gap between the haves and the have-nots. Adding Greg Oden to Ohio State makes them THAT much better. Same with Durant and Texas and Wright and North Carolina.

My picks are holding up pretty well. I have 12 of 16 in the Sweet 16 and all 8 of my final 8 picks alive. I correctly picked the VCU – Duke upset though a couple of my sure thing first round upsets didn’t hold (how does a Bob Knight team not fear him enough to win its first game? How did Gonzaga not win at least one game?). The tournament remains one of the great sports mysteries – thus making it so much fun.

The tournament is even more fun when you have a rooting interest still around after the first week. Last year Georgetown made it to the Sweet 16 and then lost to eventual national champ Florida in the toughest game the Gators player in the tourney. I am praying for a rematch - which would pit these two teams in the finals this year.

The Hoyas have Vanderbilt Friday night –a team they beat by 16 earlier in the season. Vandy may better now but the Hoyas are much better now – firing on all cylinders up front and getting steady shooting from perimeter players Jessie Sapp, Jonathan Wallace and DeJuan Summers. The more I see them play, the more they look like a final four team.

- The Mets rotation seems to have shaken out. Barring a surprise pick by Willie Randolph, it’s looking like Glavine, El Duque, Mayne, Perez and surprise winner of the fifth slot sweepstakes, Pelfrey. Chan Ho Park is a leading candidate to win the long reliever/spot starter job and Aaron Sele is one more stinkfest away from getting cut by the Turk (most likely this afternoon).

Surprisingly, the bullpen has been more of a question mark than the starters have been. Schoenweis, Smith and Wagner have been good (and Heilman is doing ok despite struggling with elbow issues) but the so-called “power arms” that Omar Minaya brought in have been really struggling. With Mota suspended, Heilman hurt and Duaner Sanchez oversleeping, there is major concern as to who will be bridging the game for Billy Wagner.

- Talking heads all over the NFL landscape are all but handing the AFC over to the Patriots after their stunning free agency period – where they actually made smart signing that (a) bolstered their aging defense and (b) totally revamped their sucky receiver corps. Meanwhile, their two major competitors, the Colts and Chargers, have been relatively quiet - with the Colts actually losing three important players from last season (June, Harper and Rhodes) and the Chargers in all kinds of coaching turmoil.

The Jets have been pretty quiet themselves – they seem content to continue building their nucleus from within, the draft and adding lower tier free agents. I would have loved for the Jets to land Adalius Thomas or corner Clement, but they didn’t want to overpay for a second tier “shut down” corner (is Clement THAT much better than Dyson) and I honestly think no one had a shot at Thomas, who actually took less money to play for the Pats.

- Still cannot understand why Dolan gave Isaiah Thomas his extension at this point in the season – oh wait sure I can. Dolan has no idea how to run a sports franchise. Selena Roberts of the New York Times has a MAJOR ax to grind with Mr. Dolan – she has for the last two years – and reading her anti-Dolan articles is one of the best parts of my morning train commute to work. Still, with a true team of walking wounded, the Knicks are still right on the cusp of a playoff spot (which I am predicting they will NOT get – way too many injuries riddling this mediocre team forcing Thomas to give WAY too many minutes to guys like Malik Rose and Nate Robinson ).

- I have to admit that I watched about 20 game minutes of last night’s Ranger game. Unlike earlier in the season when they seemed to have gotten away from the formula which had them overachieve last season, they seem to be back to a more hard nosed, defensive style of play. I was extremely impressed with rookies Ryan Callahan and some defenseman named Girardi (I had never heard of either of them until recently) as well as Sean Avery’s play. Sadly, Jarko Immomen has not developed into the superstar I had hoped he would.

And I cannot tell you how disconcerting it was the hear Sam call a game without JD. How do people listen to broadcasts now????

Well that’s it for now. I wanted to get something fresh up. Hope to have something more concrete later today or tomorrow.

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