Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Team USA Basketball Will Be Back On Top

In the "Least Bold Statement of the Summer", I am predicting right now that Team USA will win the World Championships later this summer in China.

Coach K and company made their "final" roster cut, shaving the roster down to 15. Now Coach K can only dress 12 players for the games later this summer, so Shane Battier, Brad Miller and Antawn Jamison better not get too comfortable. And that's not a knock on any of those players (well except Brad Miller, I guess Jeff Foster and Austin Croshere were each not available to try out) but those three players didn't have a chance.

Team USA is looking to rebound after 4-6 years of embarrassing international basketball. And pardon the cliche, but this team is fit to do it. Here's a look at the projected starting line-up:

G - Chris Paul
G - Dwayne Wade
G - LeBron James
F - Dwight Howard
F - Amare Stoudemire*

* = if Amare isn't healthy, Chris Bosh or Elton Brand fill in just fine.

Looking at that list of projected starters, the first thing that jumps out is that there is nobody over the age of 25. That isn't just showing that the NBA is changing and that the young guys have taken over, it shows that Team USA is about to use their athletic ability to their advantage.

There is no team in the world that can run with the athletes that Team USA has, that's for sure. Coach K isn't exactly known for a "Run n' Gun" style, but he also isn't known for being a bad coach. Coach K is a good enough coach to know where his team strength is, and he will likely exploit that against the less-athletic teams.

However, USA has also upgraded it's outside shooting and defense, something that plagued them heavily in years past. Gilbert Arenas (who could start), Joe Johnson and Bruce Bowen are all excellent outside shooters. Also, Bowen is the best defensive player in the league behind Artest (he covered a 7'0 Dirk pretty well despite being 5 inches shorter) and Arenas is also an excellent perimeter defender. And although they both will likely not be starting, with the fresh legs and deep bench that USA has, they will certainly get plenty of playing time.

In all, Team USA is fittingly built more like a college team than a pro team. They of course have their stars (LeBron, Wade) but they also have role players and specialists to fill the holes from the past years (Bowen, Hinrich, Arenas).

The addition of these role players, the younger, more fresh legs of the squad, and the more complete team play should lead Team USA back where they belong...right on top.

Monday, July 24, 2006


Trade-Rod?? That's Right..

By no means am I a Yankee fan. In fact, I might go as far as to say that I hate them.

But as a Red Sox fan, I am forced to be interested in the Yankees. Also, as a New Jersey native, I am forced to listen to 'Mike and The Mad Dog' on a daily basis. Every day I listen to "Vinny from Staten Island" and "Joey from New York" call in and rip A-Rod to pieces. Now, I'm not one to share similiar feelings on baseball with any Yankee fans, but in this case, I do.

After watching almost every Yankee game this year and hearing the merciless booing that A-Rod gets, it's time the Yankees do whats best for their team, their chemistry, Chris Russo and Mike Francesca, and lastly, us Sox fans who want him out of pinstripes.

It's time to trade Alex Rodriguez.

How to trade A-Rod:
Every team in baseball would kill to have a player as talented and young as A-Rod on their team. Unfortunatly, there are a handful of teams who can actually afford him:

The Yankees should trade Alex Rodriguez to the LAA Angels. Before you jump down my throat and tell me to stop listening to Steve Phillips on Baseball Tonight, just hear me out. Here's the perfect deal:

Yankees get SP Ervin Santana, OF/1B Darrin Erstad, 2B/SS Brandon Wood and RP Scot Shields.

Angels get SS Alex Rodriguez and 2B Robinson Cano

Call me crazy, but doesn't that work? Let's break it down from both teams perspectives:

The Yankees get rid of the booes, the tension in the clubhouse and the burden of A-Rod just flipping out during a post-game interview and grabbing Buster Olney by the throat. Granted the Yanks would have to eat some of A-Rod's salary in the deal ($252 million doesn't sit well with a lot of teams) it would still be manageable to do with the kind of money the Yankees rake in.

Now as for the players, the Yankees would not only fill the gaping holes in their armor, but would also build for the future. Ervin Santana is 23, makes practically no money, is a top prospect in all of baseball, and a big game pitcher (The Yanks won't forget Game 5 of the '05 ALDS). Plus, the Yanks are in dire need of a young pitcher, Mussina/Johnson will both be gone by '08 at the latest. Darrin Erstad is a little expensive, but he is the slick-fielding utility man the Yanks need so badly. Nobody really knows when Sheff and Matsui will be back, so putting Erstad in the outfield is a major upgrade from Melky Cabrera or Bernie Williams, not to mention Erstad is also a Gold Glove winner at 1B. Brandon Wood was recently named as a top 5 prospect in all of baseball this past season, and has scouts drooling over his all-around talent. I am well aware the Yanks have the SS position covered for another 6-7 years, but Wood is 21 years old and can play 2B for the time being until Jeter steps aside. Not to mention that when Jeter retires (6-7 years from now) Wood will only be 27 years old and in the prime of his career. Scot Shields is one of the best set-up men in all of baseball (he owned the Yanks in the '05 playoffs) and could even be a closer on most teams. This move makes sense more for this season, as the Yanks bullpen has been awful aside from Rivera, and adding Shields to the 'pen would immediatly make them a much, much better team.

The Angels make out pretty well too. Robinson Cano can play 2B the day he arrives on the West Coast (Adam Kennedy has been horrible for the Angels this year). Cano is also young and inexpensive as well, something they'll need with the huge contract of A-Rod holding him down. As for the Halos acquiring A-Rod; what can you really say? I know he is awful in the clutch. I know he is a little bit of a prima donna. But I also know that next to Albert Pujols, he is the most talented all-around player in baseball, and putting him in the line-up to finally protect Vlad is something the Angels need. They have been one power bat away from getting pushed over the top and running away with the AL West, and A-Rod is the man to do that.

The deal would instantly make both teams better, and quite frankly, would finally get 'Mike and The Mad Dog' to start talking about training camp instead of blasting A-Rod.

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